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Mark Twain: April Fool, 1884

Edited by Leslie Myrick and Christopher Ohge

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Robert Underwood Johnson to Samuel L. Clemens
31 March 1884 • New York, N.Y.
(MS, postal card: CSmH, UCLC 41957)

March 31. 33 E. 17th St, N.Y. City Century Magazine

[written vertically in the left margin:] Confidential

Mr S. L. Clemens,

Dear Sir:

Could you let me have an autograph of yours for a lame boy whose mother has interested him in things spiritual by encouraging him to make an autograph collection to be raffled for at a fair, the proceeds to go to the Society for the Suppression of the Toy Pistol. I dislike to ask you point blank and so merely suggest the evident propriety of aiding this good work.[1]

Yours very truly

R. U. Johnson


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S. L. Clemens Esq | Hartford | Conn. [return address:] postal card. | nothing but the address can be placed on this side. [postmarked] new york mar 31 9 pm d 84

Explanatory Notes

1. Image credit: Robert Underwood Johnson to Samuel Clemens, 31 March 1884, HM 27946, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California. [back]

Textual Commentary

Copy-text:MS, Huntington Library (CSmH).

Persons Mentioned

Robert Underwood Johnson  (1853–1937)

Poet, journalist, and conservationist Robert Underwood Johnson began working for Scribner's Magazine in 1873, and was named associate editor of the Century Magazine in 1881. He succeeded Richard Watson Gilder as editor, and retired in 1913. Johnson campaigned for international copyright in the 1880s, and, as the secretary of the American Copyright League, played an important role in passing the copyright law of 1891. He was one of the supporters of the foundation of both Yosemite National Park and, along with John Muir, the Sierra Club.