It is torture to write a letter. And it is still greater torture to receive one—except yours & Ma’s”—so young Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910) wrote to his sister Pamela in 1864. Whatever the torture, Clemens was a prolific correspondent, and in Mark Twain’s Letters—Volume I: 1853-1866, we have the commencement of a publishing venture that will present us with more than ten thousand letters, of which two thirds have never been printed before. It is a pleasure to report that, even as a youth, Twain was a humorist for all seasons.


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