[Ads-l] Request help tracing quotation: All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure. Attributed to Mark Twain

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Aug 16 20:00:45 UTC 2021

Many thanks to Twain-quotation expert Barbara Schmidt who told me
off-list about an article in the "Los Angeles Times" reprinting the
text of Mark Twain's 1887 letter. The newspaper article has been
clipped and is accessible via the link below.

The letter "d" is misplaced in the newspaper text. So the article
cannot be found via the most obvious search query. Here is the
newspaper text with its typo: "All you need in this life is ignorance
an dconfidence, then success is sure."

Date: March 16, 1930
Newspaper: Los Angeles Times
Newspaper Location: Los Angeles, California
Article: Twain Letter Unearthed
Author: Neeta Marquis
Section 3, Quote Page 22, Column 1 and 2
Database: Newspapers.com


Currently, one person is attempting to access the 1934 book containing
the facsimile of the letter, and a second person has offered to help.

Garson O'Toole

On Sun, Aug 15, 2021 at 6:08 PM ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> I received a request to explore the provenance of the quotation in the
> subject line.
> The best lead I have found is data pointing to a limited edition 1934
> book with 125 copies. The book is available, for example, in the
> Rubenstein Rare Book Library at Duke University. Apparently, the book
> includes a facsimile of a letter sent by Mark Twain containing the
> quotation. The letter is also included in the main text.
> Apparently, Mark Twain was the leader of a group that studied the
> poetry of Robert Browning together.
> I've uncovered conflicting information about the recipient of the
> letter. There are three possibilities. It would be nice to resolve
> this ambiguity.
> Mary E. Foote
> Mary Hallock Foote
> Cordelia Welsh Foote,
> Here is the citation for the 1934 book.
> Book year: 1934
> Book title: When Huck Finn Went Highbrow
> Book author: Benjamin De Casseres,
> Book publisher: Thomas F. Madigan, New York
> Note: Limited edition with 125 copies
> Additional note: Book includes facsimile of letter send from Mark
> Twain to Mary E. Foote (maybe) dated December 2, 1887
> Quote Page 7,
> Below is the target text which was printed in a 1948 compilation.
> [ref] 1948, Mark Twain at Your Fingertips by Caroline Thomas
> Harnsberger, Topic: Reader, (Letter excerpt from Mark Twain to Mary
> Hallock Foote), Quote Page 396, Cloud, Inc., Beechhurst Press, Inc.,
> New York. (Verified on paper)[/ref]
> [Begin excerpt]
> Now when you come to think of it, wasn't it a curious idea—I mean for
> a dozen ladies of (apparently) high intelligence to elect me their
> Browning reader? Of course you think I declined at first; but I
> didn't. I'm not the declining sort. I would take charge of the
> constellations if I were asked to do it. All you need in this life is
> ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.
> [End excerpt]
> The goal is to obtain a complete and accurate citation together with
> complete data about the letter.
> Book title
> Book author
> Book publisher
> Year of publication
> Page number of quotation
> Number of copies of limited edition together with the number of the book
> Sender of letter
> Recipient of letter
> Date of letter
> Ideally I would like scans or digital photos showing the metadata
> indicated and the target text.
> To avoid duplicated efforts please contact me offline if you can
> access this book, and you are willing to help. If multiple people
> contact me than I will select one to move forward.
> Thanks
> Garson O'Toole

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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