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A Double-Barrelled Detective Story

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Mark Twain
(1835–1910)

Autograph manuscript of "A Double-Barrelled Detective Story," 1901

Pages 45 and 46

Purchased on the Fellows Fund, 1977

MA 2934
Item description: 

Twain was skeptical—and scathing—about the capabilities and techniques of both the police and private detectives, such as Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. Nevertheless, he was fascinated by the possibilities created by scientific knowledge and methods in the solving of crime and wrote stories intended to capitalize on the popularity of detective fiction as a genre. Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories achieved enormous popularity, and Twain, perhaps antagonized by Doyle's public defense of the Boer War, elaborately burlesqued the scientific methods of Doyle's most famous fictional creation in "A Double-Barrelled Detective Story." Holmes "took the 'lay' of the place with a pocket compass, allowing two seconds for magnetic variation. . . . He took the altitude with a pocket aneroid, & the temperature with a pocket thermometer."