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Robert Hirst <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 21 Apr 1996 11:36:45 -0700
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On Wed, 17 Apr 1996, Peg Wherry wrote:

> I've held off adding to the discussion of Moncure D. Conway and now don't
> have my sources at hand.  But Andy Hoffman's interest in the Conway-Twain
> connection draws this thread back to the surface.  I don't know how/when
> Twain may have connected with Conway, but I do know that Conway was an
> early friend of Howells.  Conway was editor of the Cinncinati _Dial_ c.
> 1859-1860 and published a couple of Howells' poems there; while in
> England a few years later, Conway tried (unsuccessfully) to help Howells
> find a publisher for a book of poetry.  See footnotes in the _Selected
> Letters_ of Howells published by Twayne.
> Your resident (lurking) Howellsian,

It's certainly possible that Howells gave Clemens an introduction to
Conway. But so far as we know, Clemens met Conway probably for the first
time on 21 September 1872 when Clemens spoke before the Savage Club in
London. Conway was a Savage, partly in honor of Artemus Ward, whose
funeral sermon he gave back in 1867. Conway obviously asked Clemens if he
could include his speech in the regular letter Conway wrote to the
Cincinnati *Commercial,* and Clemens sent him the "rough draft" marked up
with suggestions about what needed to be explained to an Amerian audience.
It duly appeared in the *Commercial,* the source of Paine's text in MTB
(appendix L, 3:1630-32). Paine gets the date of the speech wrong by a
week. Paine also mistakenly implies that Conway engineered the Clemens's
trip to Stratford in 1879 (2:647 n.1). This event certainly did occur, but
not in 1879. When the Clemenses returned to England in May 1873, Conway
and Clemens made the arrangements for a trip that finally took place in
July. (All of the above courtesy of the printer's copy for Mark Twain's
Letters, Volume 5: 1872-1873, edited by Harriet Smith and Lin Salamo--just
about to go to the typesetter and due out later this year.)

The Union List of Clemens Letters shows that there is a pretty steady
stream of letters to Conway stretching from 1872 to 1904 or 1905, all but
a few of them at Columbia. Letters from Conway to Clemens are almost as
plentiful, most of them in the Mark Twain Papers, and dating through
January 1907.

Bob Hirst
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