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Contract for Roughing It

In Elmira on 15 July 1870, Elisha Bliss prepared a contract between Clemens and the American Publishing Company for the book eventually called Roughing It. Clemens’s copy, signed only by Bliss and mailed later from Hartford, is in the Mark Twain Papers (CU-MARK). Bliss’s copy, signed by both men, is in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University (CtY-BR). Clemens’s copy is transcribed below. The textual commentary records the variants between the two versions.

section break

This memorandum made this 15th day of July, [A D. ]1870. at Elmira state of N. York. between Saml L. Clemens of Buffalo of [said N York ]& [the American ]Publishing Company of Hartford state of Conn [wittnesseth]

The said Clemens agrees to write for said Company the manuscript for a book upon such subject as may be agreed upon between them, & to deliver the same to them as soon as practicable, but as early as 1st of January [next, ] [if said Company ]shall desire [it— ]Said manuscript to contain matter sufficient for a book of about 600 pages octavo. Said Clemens is also to do the usual [proofreading ]& give the ordinary assistance of [authors ]in bringing out said book & render all aid he can to its [sale, ]& is not to write or furnish manuscript for any other book unless for said [company ]during the [preparation & sale of said manuscript & book, ] [or wr furnish any part of the matter of this caretsaidcaret manuscript to other parties— ] [The ]said American Publishing Company agree to publish the said [Book ]in their best [style, ]to commence operations at once upon receipt of [manuscript, ]& to push it through with all the dispatch compatible with its being well done in text & illustrations— They agree to give the book as large a sale as they possibly can [do ]by using all means in their power, & make the utmost efforts both in preparation & sale to make it a great [ sal ] success. They agree [to [pay] ]to said Clemens a copyright on every copy sold of seven & one half per cent of [the retail ]or subscription price, on copies given to editors & others to advance the sale of the [book, ]no copyright is to be paid— Statements of sales to be made to [said ]Clemens every three months from caretaftercaret time of publication, & the copyright due to be paid at same [time]

[American Publishing Co.

E Bliss Jr Secty ]

[The Mss for book contracted for by within contract by S. L. Clemens has been delivered to [us] entitled “Roughing It”

Am Pub Co

pr E Bliss Jr [Secty]1

[on the back as folded:]

Contract with Am Pub Co—July 15, 1870

[in pencil:] em spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem space“Roughing It’[]

7½% retail price

R. It

[in ink:] em spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceRoughing It

Roughing It]




Contract for Diamond Mine Book

On 6 December 1870 Elisha Bliss prepared a contract between Clemens and the American Publishing Company for a book about the South African diamond mines. He mailed it to Clemens from Hartford, probably that same day. On 20 December Clemens signed it and returned it from Buffalo, two days later requesting that Bliss send him a copy (2 Dec 70, 20 Dec 70, 22 Dec 70, all to Bliss). Clemens’s copy is in the Mark Twain Papers (CU-MARK) and is transcribed below. Bliss’s copy is in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University (CtY-BR).

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This memorandum made this Sixth day of December 1870 between Samuel L Clemens of City of Buffalo State of N. York. and American Publishing Company of city of Hartford State of Connecticut [wittnesseth]. The said Clemens agrees to send a proper party1 to the Diamond Fields of Africa to prepare notes of adventure &c there, to be used by said Clemens in writing the manuscript for a book on the subject to be ready & delivered to the said Company by the 1st day of March 1872 or sooner, said manuscript to contain matter enough to fill at least 600 printed octavo pages.— Said Clemens is to do all proof reading & give all other assistance ordinarily done by authors & is to aid in the sale of the book when out, all he can. In case from any cause whatever, the said Clemens shall fail to write a book on the above mentioned subject, then he is to write one upon some other subject which shall be mutually agreed upon The manuscript for the same to be of same quantity & ready at time arranged, for above—& during the term of preparations & sale of said book, be the subject what it may, the said Clemens is not to write or furnish any one matter for another book, or throw any other obstacle in the way of the sale of this, & shall not furnish any part of the Mss. of this book to, or allow it to be used by any other party. And the said American Publishing Company agree to bring out this book in good style & to use their utmost efforts to make it a success & to effect large sales of it, & will pay said Clemens a copyright upon each copy sold of eight & one half (8½) per cent of the subscription price of the book— All copies furnished editors or others to advance the sale of the book, to be free from copyright— Statements of sales & payment of Copyright to be made every three months— As the said Clemens desires an advance on said copyright to be used in paying said person for trip to Africa, the said Company agree to furnish said advance as he the said Clemens may want to the amount of Twenty Five Hundred Dollars, the same, to amount of Fifteen hundred Dollars, to be advanced as soon as said Clemens shall call for it, the balance during the year 1871 if it shall be needed & called for by said Clemens to carry out his enterprise.2 All such sums advanced to be deducted from the first copyright accruing on sales of said book

E Bliss Jr. Secty

Am. Pub. Co.

Sam. L. Clemens.

[in purple ink:]

[in black ink:] caretThis contract is hereby annulled by the substitution in its place of one dated the 22nd day of June 1872, between the parties by consent of both3
em spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceAm. Pub Co.
em spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem space E Bliss Jr Sect caret

[on the back as folded, in unidentified hands]

Contract with Am Pub‐ Co Dec [6—]1870—

African Diam Contract

[in pencil by Bliss:] em spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem space1st Riley4

Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

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1 Bliss could not have added this endorsement before the early fall of 1871, when the book’s title was finalized (RI 1993, 863, 873).

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1 John Henry Riley.

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2 Clemens received advances of $1,500 on 22 December 1870 and $500 at an unknown later date (22 Dec 70 to Bliss; SLC’s contract of 22 June 1872 with the American Publishing Company, CU-MARK).

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3 The substitute contract stipulated that Clemens was to write the diamond mine book from Riley’s South African notes “if it is possible,” publishing it either as Mark Twain or, for a reduced royalty, under some other pen name. If Clemens found it “utterly impossible” to write the diamond mine book, or wrote it under an alternate pseudonym, he was to write another book as Mark Twain for the American Publishing Company (CU-MARK). He ultimately satisfied the 22 June 1872 contract with a single work, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876).

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4 The 1872 contract was in effect a second “Riley” contract, since it provided for the writing of the diamond mine book.



glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS of Clemens’s copy, drafted by Elisha Bliss, Jr., Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (CU-MARK).MS of Clemens’s copy, drafted by Elisha Bliss, Jr., Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (CU-MARK).

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphsee Mark Twain Papers in Description of Provenance.
see Mark Twain Papers in Description of Provenance.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph


wittnesseth • [sic]

Secty • [‘cty’ conflated]

wittnesseth • [sic]

6— • [badly written dash retraced for clarity in pencil by Bliss]


Collation:  Variant readings from the photofacsimile of Elisha Bliss’s copy of the contract, Mark Twain House, Hartford (CtHMTH), are recorded below (entries on the right of the bullet). The original is at CtY-BR.

A D. • A Dcaret

said N York • said state

the American • American

next, • nextcaret

if said Company • if they caretthe sd companycaret

it— • it.—

proofreading • proof reading

authors • Authors

sale, • salecaret

company • company,

preparation . . . book, • term said manuscript & book are being prepared & sold or throw any other obstacle in the way of sale of said book

or wr furnish . . . parties— • caretor wr caretfurnishcaret . . . parties—caret

[no] The • [] The

Book • book

style, • style—

manuscript, • Manuscript

do • do,

sal[not in]

to [pay] • also to pay

the retail • the selling price at caret the caret retail

book, • work

said • sd

time • time—

American Publishing Co. ǀ E Bliss Jr SectySam L. Clemens. ǀ E Bliss Jr Secty ǀ American Pub. Co

The . . . Roughing It • [on the back as folded] S L Clemens ǀ contract No 2 ǀ July 15th 1870 ǀ for Roughing It ǀ caretEndorsed on the Duplicate—that the book Mss has been deliveredcaret