Mark Twain in the West: An Exhibition
Writing for the Enterprise

“Letter from Carson City”: Signed “Mark Twain”

Clemens’s “Letter from Carson City” of 3 February 1863, undated in Scrapbook 4, is “likely . . . the first piece to which Clemens signed the name ‘Mark Twain‘ ” (Branch and Hirst, Early Tales & Sketches, Volume 1, 192). In this letter, purportedly telling why he stayed awake two days and consequently had to sleep the next two, Clemens manages to satirize his taciturn boss, Joe Goodman, and provide a description of a party at the Governor’s new house, including food, guests, and entertainment. Clemens uses his friend and “rival,” Clement T. Rice, “The Unreliable,” of the Virginia City Union, as a comic foil:

Eds. Enterprise: I feel very much as if I had just awakened out of a long sleep. I attribute it to the fact that I have slept the greater part of the time for the last two days and nights. On Wednesday, I sat up all night, in Virginia, in order to be up early enough to take the five o’clock stage on Thursday morning. I was on time. It was a great success. I had a cheerful trip down to Carson, in company with that incessant talker, Joseph T. Goodman . . .

So, having been awake forty-eight hours, I slept forty-eight, in order to get even again, which explains the proposition I began this letter with.

Yours, dreamily,

Mark Twain.

University of California, Berkeley Mark Twain Papers and Project Pocket map: Washoe and Storey counties William Wright (Dan De Quille), 1864 1863 mining stock certificate Three 1863 mining deeds Western scrapbooks 'Letter from Carson City' Sam Clemens in Virginia City, 1863 Territorial Enterprise advertisement Joseph T. Goodman's reminiscence Maps Roughing It and Comments on Bret Harte Retracing Clemens's Steps A 'Call' to Literature California Gold Country San Francisco Correspondent Writing for the Enterprise Mining in Nevada Territory Exhibit Home Introduction and Chronology