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Taylor Roberts <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 17 Mar 2023 22:51:54 -0400
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The letter from Williams remarkably became ‘true’ in 1908 when another burglar named Williams broke into Stormfield, and soon after wrote a similarly penitent letter to Clemens from prison. As MT wrote:

“…the ancient Williams was a burglar, this present Williams was a burglar; the ancient Williams was sent up for nine years and the same thing happened to this present Williams two or three weeks ago; the tone of sweet repentance and pious sentimentality observable in the ancient letter pervades this present one. I wonder if penitentiary people always get to feeling like that.” (Autobiographical Dictation 8 Dec 1908)

Hope you are having a nice evening of St Patrick’s Day,

> On Mar 17, 2023, at 18:37, Barbara Schmidt <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> A search of historic newspaper databases show the "Letter from a Convict"
> being published 1873-1876. I found no stories indicating it was a fake
> until newspapers were printing portions of LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI in 1883.
> Barb
>> On Fri, Mar 17, 2023 at 4:45 PM Bob Gill <
>> [log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> I have a question about a story in Chapter 52 of Life on the Mississippi –
>> the one about Williams the burglar and the faked letter to him from an
>> ex-convict. I’m wondering if it’s essentially true, if it’s something Mark
>> Twain worked up based on a small kernel of truth, or if he made it up
>> entirely out of whole cloth? Does anybody know?
>> -- Bob G.