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"Carl J. Chimi" <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 25 Nov 2008 13:26:54 -0500
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Over the years I have read a number of references to Mark Twain using a
phonograph for various purposes.  Usually, it is said that he dictated part
of a book onto a phonograph record.  In a book I remember reading by Hal
Holbrook (can't remember the name) he says he studied either one or several
phonograph records of Mark Twain's voice as he prepared himself to act the
role on stage.  If that is true (and I don't know why, but I doubt it is)
then phonograph records of Mark Twain's voice existed at least into the late
1940s or early 1950s, possibly later.

I've never seen any book document when and where Mark Twain might have
spoken into a phonograph.  And I've read in numerous places that no
recordings of his voice are known to exist.  Now, I have a hard time
believing that anyone who KNEW he or she possessed a recording of that voice
would have simply lost or destroyed that record.  I know there was a fire at
Edison's plant in the teens that destroyed a lot of valuable recordings, but
if that destroyed the Mark Twain recording, then that would give the lie to
Holbrook's statement.

Does anyone have any factual information about when and where Mark Twain
might have spoken into a phonograph to have his voice recorded?  And what
might actually have happened over the years to any such recordings?  Do any
books treat of this subject beyond the mere cursory mention of it?

I have no hope that any recordings exist, but I would sure love to hear that
voice if it were possible.


Carl J. Chimi
Bloomsburg University