For fifteen years I have had in my mind's eye such an idyl as we have seen this evening.
Years ago I went to an old friend of mine and told him the story of the prince and the pauper. He didn't know--Stop that hammering back there! [this to some stage hands who were making a dreadful racket behind the drop]--he didn't know anything about dramatic affairs, he was without bias, and he said it would make a rattling play. He used some other phrase that I forget just now, but it was strong and convincing.
MARK TWAIN AND LITTLE ELSIE
AT THE BROADWAY THEATRE.
Illustration by Henry Pruitt Share appeared in the
January 26, 1890 edition of the New York Herald
So I went home and started to write the play. Somehow I couldn't make it go. I had written books, and knew I could write books as well as anyone. But I couldn't make the play. I found that it required qualities to make a play different from those needed to write a book. To write a book one must have great learning, high moral qualities and--some other little things like that.
But to make a play requires genius. So I spread my story out in
a book and waited for the genius to come along to do the dramatizing. And therefore
the honor of this curtain call belongs not to me but to Mrs. Abby Sage Richardson,
who, I regret to say, is not in the house tonight or even in the city.
- New York Herald, January 21, 1890
Evidently Twain was mistaken about the absence of Mrs. Richardson. After having walked off stage with Elsie Leslie, he returned with Mrs. Richardson who also took her bows. According to Paul Fatout in Mark Twain Speaking, (University of Iowa Press, 1978) his praise of Mrs. Richardson is at odds with complaints against her that he set forth in an unmailed letter to the play's producer Daniel Frohman dated February 1, 1890.
Related articles concerning the Prince and Pauper from
21, 1890 - AMUSEMENTS; ELSIE LESLIE
A YANKEE IN
THE CRUSADING JOURNALIST
EDWARD H. HOUSE
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