Here's the story behind this brief piece (it's not at all what you might
Twain inscribed a copy of HF to J M Barrie. According to Clement Shorter,
this copy also carried an owner's inscription by "Sarah Findlay of Illinois"
and Twain makes reference to this person in his inscription. Clement
Shorter, who was fond of printing tiny little limited editions, printed this
piece and speculated that Sarah Findlay must have been some poor girl who
sent her copy of HF to Twain for an autograph and never got it back. He
wrote Barrie asking for a comment, and in this rare little private printing
he printed his own preface with his speculations about Sarah Findlay, plus
Barrie's comments about HF, a transription of Twain's inscription to Barrie,
and the text of an anonymous letter Twain sent to England about piracies of
But before you all scamper off a'googling, or clawing through ancestry.com
for an answer to this mystery, I should also mention that Shorter reveals
that he changed the name of the woman whose name was in this copy and also
says she was not from Illinois. There is no Sarah Findlay.
So... we need to locate Barrie's copy of HF, find out the woman's real name,
and then with a little bit of googling and a few minutes in ancestry.com the
"mystery" will be solved.
Ready! set! go!
Mac Donnell Rare Books
9307 Glenlake Drive
Austin TX 78730
Member: ABAA, ILAB
You may browse our books at
----- Original Message -----
From: "Steve Hoffman" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 6:35 PM
Subject: Re: Mysterious text
> Well, count me among those who is now curious as to the answer to the
> question in the title of this work!
> I.e., who the heck /was /Sarah Findlay? Fictional character? Real
> person? Is this an essay or a short story by Twain? And how did J.M.
> Barrie figure into it?
> A quick perusal of my Twain reference books discloses that Twain and
> Barrie had some acquaintance -- I could find no index entries to the
> mysterious Ms. Findlay.
> By the way, the manuscript does not appear to be available on Google
> Steve Hoffman
> Takoma Park MD
> Kevin Mac Donnell wrote:
>> I have a copy and I also have a set of proof sheets that lacks only the
>> preface leaf. I can photocopy the loosely folded proofs more easily than
>> bound copy, and copying them and mailing it to you would be easier (on me
>> and the booklet itself) than scanning them.
>> Please try google books first, but I'm happy to help if you strike out
>> there. Perhaps somebody knows if this piece has ever been reprinted in
>> form or collected into a later collection of his works. If you fail to
>> a reprint or a copy online, just send me your mailing address offline.
>> Mac Donnell Rare Books
>> 9307 Glenlake Drive
>> Austin TX 78730
>> Member: ABAA, ILAB
>> You may browse our books at
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "CÚline-Albin Faivre" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 11:37 AM
>> Subject: Mysterious text
>>> Good evening,
>>> I wondered if someone among the specialists of this forum could tell me
>>> where I can read this very rare text:
>>> /Who Was Sarah Findlay? By Mark Twain With a Suggested Solution of the
>>> Mystery by J. M. Barrie/. London: Privately Printed by Clement Shorter,
>>> April 1917.
>>> I know there are only 25 copies all around the world.
>>> Many thanks in advance for your help.
>>> CÚline-Albin Faivre