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A Playful Correspondent

A Scrap Letter [letter to Jane Lampton Clemens, 11 June 1871]
These manuscript bits correspond to scraps 1, 5, 9, 3 and 13
on the "Reading the Scrap Letter" chart.


These manuscript bits correspond to scraps 6, 2, the verso of 3,
10, and 14 on the "Reading the Scrap Letter" chart.

A "Scrap Letter"
[letter to Jane Lampton Clemens, 11 June 1871]

"Ma, write on whole letter sheets—is paper scarce in St. Louis?" Sam Clemens complained to his mother in 1863.

Eight years later Jane Clemens had not reformed: she was still writing letters on any odd bits of paper she had handy.

Sam set out to cure her once and for all in June 1871. He wrote his letter on nine unnumbered scraps of paper, shown here, with a postscript on a tenth scrap. He wrote on one side of some scraps, on both sides of others, and even tore some of the scraps from other people's letters so his own writing was over and around theirs.

Reading the "Scrap Letter"

The full text of Clemens’s letter can only be revealed by reading the front and—in some cases—the back of the scraps, as shown here.

These manuscript bits correspond to scraps 16, 8, 11, and 4 on the "Reading the Scrap Letter" chart.


These manuscript bits correspond to scraps 7, 15, 12, and the
verso of 4 on the "Reading the Scrap Letter" chart.

The postscript survived separately from the nine scraps in the Mark Twain Papers and found its way into a private collection. Its text was transcribed in Mark Twain's Letters, Volume 5.
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