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Mark Twain: April Fool, 1884

Edited by Leslie Myrick and Christopher Ohge

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Ellen Terry to Samuel L. Clemens
31 March 1884 • New York, N.Y.
(MS: CU-MARK, UCLC 41981)

Dear Mark Twain—

Will you write your name for me—

Yours Yours[1]

Ellen Terry =

March 31, 84


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“Mark Twain” | Hartford | Connecticutt = [postmarked:] new-york mar 31 2 30 pm 84 [docketed by SLC, in pencil:] Ellen Terry | mention

Explanatory Notes

1. This letter shows signs of haste, or fatigue, probably because she, like her leading man, Henry Irving, was writing after a long rehearsal, just before opening night at the Star Theatre, where they were both starring in several short selections. [back]

Textual Commentary

Copy-text:MS, Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (CU-MARK).

Persons Mentioned

Dame Ellen Terry  (1847–1928)

Ellen Terry was the leading British stage actress in Shakespearean roles of her day. Her first performance in 1856 was as Mamilius in The Winter's Tale at the Princess Theatre, London, where she remained until the retirement of Charles Kean in 1859. In 1878 Terry joined Irving's company at the Lyceum. She had a long professional and personal relationship with Henry Irving.

Sir Henry Irving  (1838–1905)

English stage actor Henry Irving was born John Henry Broadribb, the son of a traveling salesman in Somerset. His first professional appearance was as the Duke of Orleans in Bulwer-Lytton's Richelieu in September 1856 at the New Royal Lyceum Theatre, Sunderland. In 1871 he joined the Lyceum Theatre in London under the management of Hezekiah Bateman, where he won acclaim for his performance in The Bells, an adaptation of Erckmann-Chatrian's Le Juif Polonais. He took over the management of the Lyceum Theatre from Bateman in 1878, the beginning of his long stage and personal partnership with Ellen Terry. In 1895 he became the first actor to receive a knighthood. During a provincial farewell tour in Bradford he was taken ill and died of a stroke hours later.