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Mark Twain: April Fool, 1884

Edited by Leslie Myrick and Christopher Ohge

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Sara T. Kinney to Samuel L. Clemens
1 April 1884 • Boston, Mass.
(MS: CU-MARK, UCLC 41991)

23 Beacon Street,


Dear Mr. Clemens,

I have just 'done myself proud' by guessing the following riddle (conceived, by the way, in England)—and send it to you at once—hoping it may serve you well in some of the emergencies of life to which we are all liable.

Riddle A by ||[2]

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And I improve this opportunity to say that it would afford me great pleasure to be able to add your autograph to my valuable collection &c. &c.

Yrs Very Truly

Sara T. Kinney


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Mr. Samuel Clemens | Farmington Ave—& Forest St | Hartford—Conn— [postmarked:] boston apr 1 7 30 am mass 84 [docketed by SLC, in pencil:] Kennedy[3]

Explanatory Notes

1. This address was listed as a hotel about a decade later; it may have been a boardinghouse of sorts in 1884. [back]
2. A charade or rebus, "A by road" for "Abroad." [back]
3. The Kinney letters were both postmarked Boston; this may have contributed to Clemens's misidentification of John Kinney's wife. [back]

Textual Commentary

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

Persons Mentioned

Sara T. Kinney  (1842–1922)

Sara Thomson Kinney, the wife of John Coddington Kinney, was active in the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Women's National Indian Association. In 1884, after attending the second annual Lake Mohonk Conference for Friends of the Indian, she joined the WNIA Home-Building and Loan Committee, whose purpose was to encourage Native American women to assimilate into white society.