CLEMENS SAMUEL LANGHORNE [MARK TWAIN] (1835-1910).

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CLEMENS SAMUEL LANGHORNE [MARK TWAIN] (1835-1910).

Autograph MANUSCRIPT, Huck & Tom, undated; 3 pages in-8 format, pencil (slight foxing to the first page; ifolds and paper frayed).
Clemens’s manuscript notes for a projected stage version of “Tom Sawyer”.
As early as July 13, 1875 Clemens had asked his friend William Dean Howells to dramatize the still unpublished The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Howells refused but even before receiving Howells’s refusal, Twain must have applied for a copyright. For on July 21 he secured one by submitting [a] synopsis. Shortly afterward Twain evidently wrote at least some of the drama. At any rate, late in 1875 or early in 1876, the humorist sounded out Henry J. Byron, British actor, theater manager, and playwright, about collaborating on a dramatization of Tom Sawyer.... The letter of inquiry, however, was misplaced, and before Byron found it and answered it some months later, Clemens had Moncure Conway, his agent in England, approach another dramatist, Tom Taylor who declined. Taylor’s refusal made possible another approach to Byron.
The dramatic version of Tom Sayer was completed on January 29, 1884 and the play was copyrighted at once on February 1. The copyright was secured on the basis of the submission to the copyright office of a scene-by-scene synopsis. Mark Twin was so pleased with this piece of work that even before he had finished it he was pondering on the cast which might properly perform it and trying to dictate terms. Eventually the play was submitted to [Augustin] Daly, along with stern instructions about the casting, the premiere date, and the royalty arrangement. On February 27, 1884. One hears no more about the author’s attempting to dramatize his novel, but exactly a year later Clemens informed Howells that he had sold dramatic rights to Tom Sawyer in New York (see Waletr Blair (ed)., Mark Twain’s Hannibal, Huck and Tom (University of California Press, 1969). Later Mark Twain became very circumspect about the possibility of dramatizing
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