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Mark Twain
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The Belle of New York 1901-1908
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Reaction to Celebrity
 
 

It is indeed a high compliment which you offer me in naming an association after me and in proposing the setting apart of a Mark Twain day at the great St. Louis fair, but such compliments are not proper for the living; they are proper and safe for the dead only...I hope that no society will be named for me while I am still alive for might at some time or other do something which would cause its members to regret having done me that honor. After I have joined the dead I shall follow the customs of those people and be guilty of no conduct that can would any friend; but until that time shall come I shall be a doubtful quantity like the rest of our race.”—Mark Twain, Letter to T. F. Gatts, 1903

Vacationing in Bermuda with Woodrow Wilson and other Friends, 1908
Vacationing in Bermuda
with Woodrow Wilson
and other Friends, 1908
Courtesy of The Mark Twain
House, Hartford
Visiting Hannibal, MO, June 1902
Visiting Hannibal, MO,
June 1902

Courtesy of The Mark Twain Project,
Bancroft Library, Berkeley
Visiting Boyhood Home, Hannibal, MO., 1902
Visiting Boyhood Home,
Hannibal, MO., 1902

Courtesy of The Mark Twain
Museum, Hannibal
 
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“A Useful Trade”

With John Lewis, 1903
With John Lewis, 1903
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

“The wretched autograph business. Say very little on this delicate subject—& put that into someone else’s mouth—say the beginning of the voyage was saddened by the killing of an autograph hunter.”—Mark Twain, Notebooks and Journals, 1860-61

With Helen Keller at Stormfield, Redding, CT
With Helen Keller
at Stormfield, Redding, CT

Courtesy of The Mark Twain Project,
Bancroft Library, Berkeley

Clemens often spoke to benefit social causes, but he disliked parts of it as well, as he notes in this letter about a benefit for a society of the blind. The recipient of the letter is Helen Keller, whom he greatly admired:

“There’ll be a public meeting: with music, and prayer, and a wearying report, and a verbal description of the miracles the blind can do, and 17 speeches—the call upon all present who are still alive, to contribute. This hoary program was invented in the idiot asylum, and will never be changed. Its function is to breed hostility to good causes...

Mind, we must meet! Not in the grim and ghastly air of the platform, mayhap, but by the friendly fire—here at 21.”—Samuel Clemens, Letter to Helen Keller (from 21 5th Ave, New York), 1906

 
 
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