Mark Twain (1835–1910)
Autograph letter signed, dated Elmira, New York, July 11 1883, to [Charles Anderson] Dana
Purchased on the Acquisitions Fund, 1987; MA 4498
Twain told Charles A. Dana, editor of The Sun newspaper, that he was putting off his planned trip to New York because "I am whacking at an unfinished book." The book was his masterpiece, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which he had begun in the summer of 1876, shortly after finishing The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Composition of Huckleberry Finn had twice stalled, and Twain even considered burning the manuscript before returning to work on it with renewed energy in the summer of 1883. His spring of 1882 steamboat journey through the Mississippi River valley supplied the creative impetus he needed to write Life on the Mississippi (1883) and to finish Huckleberry Finn.