[letters of 1 April 1884 from Charles Dudley Warner, Henry P. Gray, and Stephen Fiske]
In 1884 the Louisiana writer George Washington Cable arranged an elaborate practical joke on his autograph-averse friend.
He invited 150 of Clemens's literary friends in Boston, Hartford, New York, Washington and elsewhere to write to Clemens, "so that their letters would reach him simultaneously April 1st, asking for his autograph. . . . It would seem that every one receiving the invitation must have responded to it, for on the morning of April 1st a stupefying mass of letters was unloaded on Mark Twain's table."
Many of the letters were absurdly comical. Clemens was delighted with the joke and awed by its comprehensiveness. Letters from Charles Dudley Warner, Henry Peters Gray, and Stephen Fiske are shown here.