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Robert Hirst <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 28 Mar 1996 11:57:36 -0800
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On Wed, 27 Mar 1996, Gregg Camfield wrote:

>  Kate Winter's biography of Marietta Holley (_Marietta Holley: Life with
>  "Josiah Allen's Wife_," Syracuse, NY: Syracuse UP, 1984) mentions that
>  Williams was an alcoholic, and his alcoholism was a source of anguish to
>  Holley, who crusaded against demon rum in the comic Samantha Allen
>  novels that Williams illustrated.  (It seems that Williams often missed
>  his deadlines.)

Thanks Gregg. We'll add that bit to the file. Williams's drunkenness was
alluded to by Paine, who said he was a "man of great talent" but that
it "was necessary to lock him in a room when industry was required, with
nothing more exciting than cold water as a beverage" (1:366). That
tendency was evidently just another fact of life for Elisha Bliss. Orion
Clemens told Mollie on 3 October 1871: "I saw his [Mark Twain's] artist
(Williams) tonight climbing a lamp post, and offering to go to the top,
for the amusement of some loafers in front of Tim Dooley's Saloon. Bliss
told me this morning that Williams was on a spree. He brought a written
affidavit, taken before a notary, some time since, into the office, and
wanted to borrow 50c to pay the notary, his real object being a ruse to
get liquor money, or else he soon fell from grace" (CU-MARK). This was
toward the end of his work on Roughing It (see p. 869, RI 1993). (Edward
F. Mullen, who also worked on the book, was likewise addicted to drink. In
fact the number of illustrators and engravers in general who were inclined
to abuse alcohol has often been remarked upon, but never I think
satisfactorily explained.)

There are similar bits and pieces about Williams scattered here and there
in the new edition of Roughing It, and also in earlier books, like Early
Tales 1. Among the more amusing (and doubtful) facts is the possible
self-portrait he snuck into chapter 62 of Roughing It (see pp. 858 and
427). What we strangely seem to lack are basic things, like birth and
death dates, the second of which might lead us to an obituary or two. But
not even Sinclair Hamilton seems to know when Williams died or was born,
although in his supplement (1968) he does get around to listing other
American Publishing Company books to which Williams contributed, including
Harte's Gabriel Conroy and two books by Marietta Holley.

Bob Hirst, Mark Twain Project
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