I recently happened across an interesting aside in a book about Henry
Parkes, a leading political figure in Australia's federation. The book's
author, Stephen Dando-Collins, writes that Parkes and Twain had
'corresponded for years' - before Twain's visit in 1895/6.
I've tried (unsuccessfully) to contact Dando-Collins to see if Henry Parkes
did indeed leave Twain correspondence in his private papers - which are
housed in the Mitchell Library of the State Library of New South Wales.
Of course, I've searched the Mark Twain Project online archive, and
enthusiastically leafed through the indexes of the first two volumes of
David Fears's 'Mark Twain Day by Day'. But nothing comes up under the name
of Henry Parkes.
Either Dando-Collins was 'gilding the lily' or there just might some
interesting undiscovered letters to be found in the Mitchell Library?
Last time I was in Sydney, I was at a conference venue just across the road
from the Mitchell Library. Guess where I spent most of that conference? It's
a truly marvellous library.
Doubt I'll get another chance in the near future. Anyone visiting Sydney
soon? Would be fun to find some genuinely unpublished correspondence.