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Sharon McCoy <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 10 Sep 2006 10:47:05 -0400
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Fellow Twainiacs,

What do you all know about Joshua Norton, the self-proclaimed Emperor Norton
I of San Franscisco (born, ca. 1818- died, 1880)?

The other night I was told some wonderful stories about this local character
whose delusions apparently appealed to San Franciscans so much that they
supported him economically.  He did various wonderful things as declaring
the US Congress dissolved, and also met with the genuine Emperor of Peru.

Among other things, this guy told me that Emperor Norton is thought to be
the inspiration for the King in _Huck Finn_.

I've looked up Norton in the library and found that there are numerous books
and articles, though none seem to overtly connect Norton and Twain, except
for a _Bonanza_ episode, apparently, that also "starred" MT.

My question is -- do any of you know who thinks Norton might be the
inspiration for the character of the King?  Or it is an erroneous impression
because of the power of pop culture and television's authority?  I don't
remember anything about Norton in any of the things I've read on Twain and
San Francisco--though I could just have been inattentive.  Has any Twain
scholar made this connection/argument?

Thanks, all.