ALS signed “Samuel L. Clemens, Mark Twain,” one page, 4.5 x 6.75, February 14 . Letter to an unidentified gentleman, in full: “I am only too proud of the chance to help with this the only Valentine I venture to write this day—for although I am twain in my own person I am only half a person in my matrimonial firm, & sometimes my wife shows that she is so much better & nobler than I am that I seriously question I am really any more than about a quarter!” In very good condition, with scattered light staining to letter, not affecting legibility, and mounting remnants to reverse.
In February 1871, Clemens shortened a trip to Washington, D.C. to return home and take care of his wife Olivia, who had been stricken with typhoid fever. Her illness worried Clemens into what he deemed a “state of absolute frenzy,” and without Olivia at the helm, the family’s household slipped into chaos. Langdon, their sickly young son, cried incessantly for his ailing mother, prompting Clemens to lament, “I believe if that baby goes on crying 3 more hours this way I will butt my frantic brains out & try to get some peace.” Not only does this witty Valentine note reveal Clemens’s love and dependence for his wife—who had begun to recover by mid-month—but it features the uncommon and highly desirable pairing of both his given and pen names on correspondence. Pre-certified PSA/DNA.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.