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Add to My CitationsTo Moncure D. Conway
9 April 1876 • Hartford, Conn.
(MS: NNC, UCCL 01320)
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Hartford, Apl. 9.

My Dear Conway:

Got your letter yesterday, & it seemed to me that the advantages of the two propositions were exactly evenly balanced. It was so puzzling a question that I was sorry you hadn’t decided it yourself, & commanded me accordingly. I finally submitted the matter to Mrs. Clemens, & she said, “Take the royalty; it simplifies everything; removes all risk; requires no outlay of capital; makes the labor easy for Mr. Conway; a gain of 25 per cent profit is hardly worth the trouble & risk of publishing on your own account.”1

I said “All right”—& so telegraphed you to take the royalty. If I could have written, I would simply have said, “Decide the question for yourself, & if you want the 5 £500, telegraph me so.”

Indeed it is not too late to say that yet ., if unless your contract is already closed. We certainly cannot issue here before May 1st, if we can even do it then. Hardly any of the pictures are finished yet. I have read only 2 chapters in proof, & they had blanks for the cuts. Perhaps, in view of this delay, it may be best to take the royalty & leave Chatto to take the risk—that is, if he is still willing.

A week from now the Atlantic will come out with a mighty handsome notice of the book, by Howells (which I will send to you,) but the book won’t issue till 2 or 3 w or even 4 weeks later. This notice says the book “gives incomparably the best picture of life in that (the West) region as yet known to fiction.” “The story is a wonderful study of the boy-mind.” “The tale is very dramatically wrought.” “The worthless vagabond, Huck Finn, is entirely delightful throughout.” “Tom Sawyer * * * * was bred to fear God & dread the Sunday-school”—&c &c &c. It’s a jolly good notice.

You can leave out the preface; or alter it so that it will not profess to be a book for youth; or write a new preface & put your own name or initials to [it. Fix] it any way you want to, if as you say, it will be best not to put it forth as a book for youth.2

(Before I [forget, ] it, let me remark that your 5-per centage is entirely satisfactory to me, if it is to you, no matter which method of publishing we adopt.)

My dear Conway, we borrowed our shape & style of book from England. We exactly copied the size, style, & get-up, of a half a dozen of Cassel, Peter & Galpin’s pretty books.3 But still, you & Chatto must freely do as you like. If you still do not want to make the book the size of ours & take a set of plates containing the cuts & everything, telegraph thus:

“Twain—Hartford—pictures.”

If you should want

I will then send any & all pictures that can be cut down to your [size. ]—& send the original drawings of the rest.

If you should take a notion to have full plates, just telegraph “Plates,” instead of “Pictures.”

Telegraph 20 or 30 words whenever necessary. It is no economy to do business by mail.

Bliss can’t give me price of full plates or pictures either, yet—but says he will make it just as cheap as he possibly can——for me.

Well, I’ll write tomorrow if I find I haven’t finished today.

Ys Ever

S. L. Clemens

Susie sends thanks & a kiss for the book. We all shake hands with you-all across the briny.

Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

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1 Clemens replied to the following letter (CU-MARK):
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Conway’s estimate of the difference in profit between the commission and royalty plans did not include the proceeds from the “cheap edition.” He actually meant to say that Clemens would earn £250 less per 10,000 copies, not “per thousand.” For Conway’s 24 March telegram and Clemens’s reply, see 25 Mar 76 to Conway. In his 24 March letter Conway alluded to: his wife, Ellen, and their children, Eustace, Dana, and Mildred; Olivia, Susy, and Clara Clemens (the “three fairies”); George Routledge and one of his three sons and partners (most probably Robert, who handled the firm’s financial matters, but possibly Edmund or William), Clemens’s current authorized English publishers; and Andrew Chatto and W. E. Windus, who had published Tom Hood’s From Nowhere to the North Pole in 1875, and starting with Tom Sawyer replaced the Routledges as Clemens’s English publishers (see 6 and 7 Jan 76 to PAM, n. 3; 26 Feb 76 to Conway, n. 1; , L5 130 n. 3, 480 n. 2, 511 n. 1 bottom, 637 n. 2; Hood 1875).

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2 No alterations were made in Clemens’s preface, which, in both the English and American editions of Tom Sawyer, concluded:

Although my book is intended mainly for the entertainment of boys and girls, I hope it will not be shunned by men and women on that account, for part of my plan has been to try to pleasantly remind adults of what they once were themselves, and of how they felt and thought and talked, and what queer enterprises they sometimes engaged in.

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3 The publishing firm of John Cassell, George W. Petter, and Thomas D. Galpin was founded in 1859. Clemens owned at least three of their books (see HF 2003, 703 n. 127). Conway later characterized their publications as “2d class things” (6 May 76 to SLC, CU-MARK).



glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS, Conway Papers, NNC.

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph MTLP, 96–97.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphThe Conway Papers were acquired by NNC sometime after Conway’s death in 1907.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph


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