<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Letter from Mark Twain to W. D. Howells - 1877
Mark Twain Letters

Letter from Mark Twain to W. D. Howells

ELMIRA, 1877.

Mark Twain William Dean Howells

MY DEAR HOWELLS,—It's finished. I was misled by hurried mis-paging. There were ten pages of notes, and over 300 pages of MS when the play was done. Did it in 42 hours, by the clock; 40 pages of the Atlantic—but then of course it's very "fat." Those are the figures, but I don't believe them myself, because the thing's impossible.

But let that pass. All day long, and every day, since I finished (in the rough) I have been diligently altering, amending, re-writing, cutting down. I finished finally today. Can't think of anything else in the way of an improvement. I thought I would stick to it while the interest was hot—and I am mighty glad I did. A week from now it will be frozen—then revising would be drudgery. (You see I learned something from the fatal blunder of putting "Ah Sin" aside before it was finished.)

She's all right, now. She reads in two hours and 20 minutes and will play not longer than 2 3/4 hours. Nineteen characters; 3 acts; (I bunched 2 into 1.)

Tomorrow I will draw up an exhaustive synopsis to insert in the printed title-page for copyrighting, and then on Friday or Saturday I go to New York to remain a week or ten days and lay for an actor. Wish you could run down there and have a holiday. 'Twould be fun.

My wife won't have "Balaam's Ass"; therefore I call the piece "Cap'n Simon Wheeler, The Amateur Detective."


Back to Mark Twain Letters

Mark Twain's Children

Mark Twain's Marriage

Mark Twain's Mining Years