(Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1835–1910)
"A Double-Barrelled Detective Story," 1901
Page 1 of the autograph manuscript, 125 pages
Purchased on the Fellows Fund, 1977
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; in "A Double-Barrelled Detective Story" Twain, perhaps antagonized by Doyle's public defense of the Boer War, elaborately burlesqued the scientific methods of Doyle's most famous fictional creation. 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."