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The New York Times, October 28, 1910



The greatest American humorist left a large fortune for a man of letters to accumulate. In his middle life, even on the threshold of old age, he was practically bankrupt. He died leaving nearly $550,000 in personal property, and $70,000 worth of real estate. Wise management of his affairs, under good advice, made him a comparatively rich man, rich enough, some folks will say, for any man to be, and much better off than most of his contemporaries in American literary life, perhaps than any of them. His royalties, in his later years, were large, to be sure, but the sagacity with which his surplus money was invested indicates the value of a sound financial adviser to a literary man.

It is said that the Utah mining shares estimated by his executors to be worth nearly $81,000 were purchased for about $10 a share. His Union Pacific shares were probably bought at a much lower price than the prevailing quotation. On the other hand, 60 shares in the Roodeport Central Deeps, scheduled in the inventory at $150, and certain shares in a land company, valued at $500, may be taken to indicate the humorist's own tendency to make investments with no other guide but his own imagination.

The inventory suggests that Mark Twain was very well paid for his work. If he had sought good counsel in his investments early in life, and had kept out of purely commercial ventures, for the conduct of which he lacked both training and temperament, his fortune might have twice as large as it was, and he had lived well for many years. Therefore, the question, "Does literature pay?" is answered affirmatively in this case. Literature pays when the writer has the genius, the comprehension of his era, the power to charm, amuse and uplift which Samuel L. Clemens possessed.

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