Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 2: 1886-1900 eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 248 pages of information about Mark Twain, a Biography Volume II, Part 2.

It seems incredible to-day that, realizing the play’s possibilities as Mark Twain did, and as Belasco and Daniel Frohman must have done, they did not complete their partial triumph by finding another child actress to take the part of Tom Canty.  Clemens urged and pleaded with them, but perhaps the undertaking seemed too difficult—­at all events they did not find the little beggar king.  Then legal complications developed.  Edward House, to whom Clemens had once given a permission to attempt a dramatization of the play, suddenly appeared with a demand for recognition, backed by a lawsuit against all those who had a proprietary interest in the production.  House, with his adopted Japanese daughter Koto, during a period of rheumatism and financial depression, had made a prolonged visit in the Clemens home and originally undertook the dramatization as a sort of return for hospitality.  He appears not to have completed it and to have made no arrangement for its production or to have taken any definite step until Mrs. Richardson’s play was profitably put on; whereupon his suit and injunction.

By the time a settlement of this claim had been reached the play had run its course, and it was not revived in that form.  It was brought out in England, where it was fairly prosperous, though it seems not to have been long continued.  Variously reconstructed, it has occasionally been played since, and always, when the parts of Tom Canty and the Prince were separate, with great success.  Why this beautiful drama should ever be absent from the boards is one of the unexplainable things.  It is a play for all times and seasons, the difficulty of obtaining suitable “twin” interpreters for the characters of the Prince and the Pauper being its only drawback.

CLXXI

“A Connecticut Yankee in king Arthur’s court

From every point of view it seemed necessary to make the ’Yankee in King Arthur’s Court’ an important and pretentious publication.  It was Mark Twain’s first book after a silence of five years; it was a book badly needed by his publishing business with which to maintain its prestige and profit; it was a book which was to come out of his maturity and present his deductions, as to humanity at large and kings in particular, to a waiting public.  It was determined to spare no expense on the manufacture, also that its illustrations must be of a sort to illuminate and, indeed, to elaborate the text.  Clemens had admired some pictures made by Daniel Carter ("Dan”) Beard for a Chinese story in the Cosmopolitan, and made up his mind that Beard was the man for the Yankee.  The manuscript was sent to Beard, who met Clemens a little later in the office of Webster & Co. to discuss the matter.  Clemens said: 

“Mr. Beard, I do not want to subject you to any undue suffering, but I wish you would read the book before you make the pictures.”

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Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 2: 1886-1900 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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