Some might recall my interest in trying to pinpoint the identity of the
Australian imposter Twain mentions in "Following The Equator". Recently I've
discovered that Stephen C. Massett (Jeems Pipes of Pipesville) made a second
visit to Australia in the late 1870s. Massett, as many will know, was an
English-born comic and composer who made his name early in the history of
Judging by the correspondence listed in David Fear's "Mark Twain Day by
Day", Twain knew Massett reasonably well from his days as a newspaper
reporter in the 1860s. Periodically, Massett was known to have impersonated
Twain (and Artemus Ward, et al) as part of his own platform performances
around the world. To some extent, Twain acknowledged Massett's not
inconsiderable talent as a performer as early
as June 1868 in a letter to Mary Mason Fairbanks.
"SLC to Mary Mason Fairbanks, 17 June 1868, San Francisco, Calif. (UCCL
02735)," n. 12 In <i>Mark Twain's Letters, 1867-1868.</i> Edited by Harriet
Elinor Smith, Richard Bucci, and Lin Salamo. Mark Twain Project Online.
Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press. 1990, 2007.
letter;brand=mtp#an12>, accessed 2011-01-07.
I'm very interested to know if Massett wrote to Twain about what he was
doing in Australia.
Is there anyone heading to the MTP archive at Berkeley in the near future
who wouldn't mind appraising a few Massett letters for me - the ones that
are not already available through Mark Twain Project Online?
I could hassle Bob Hirst and his team again, but after receiving my copy of
Twain's new autobiography (Vol 1) and seeing the enormity of the task they
have accomplished, I am now feeling very sheepish about asking any more
favours out of MTP Berkeley ... at least until Vol 3 is put to bed.
As you might expect, I am now very interested in the Twain-Massett
relationship, and would be very interested to know if members of this list
know where I can find more (than what is outlined by Mark Twain Project
Online, for example).
"SLC to Stephen C. Massett (Jeems Pipes), 2 Sept 1869., Buffalo, N.Y. (UCCL
00218)," n. 1 In <i>Mark Twain's Letters, 1869.</i> Edited by Victor
Michael B. Frank, and Dahlia Armon. Mark Twain Project Online. Berkeley, Los
Angeles, London: University of California Press. 1992, 2007.
letter;brand=mtp#an1>, accessed 2011-01-07.
Massett's autobiography ("Drifting About or What 'Jeems Pipes of Pipesville'
Saw-and-did")focuses on his travels in the 1850s. Apologies if this
information is freely available, as I have not been able to uncover much
about Massett at all, particularly his possible friendship with Twain.
Massett's second visit to Australia seems to have gone unrecorded or
Thanks in advance, please feel free to contact me off-list.
[log in to unmask]