Bring back some good or bad memories


April 22, 2023

Photographs of Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) With “Little Fish” Dorothy Quick in 1907

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835–1910), is better known as the beloved writer Mark Twain. Twain was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. He was photographed here with an 11-year-old girl named Dorothy Quick.

At age 75, after Twain’s wife died, he began numerous friendships with young girls between the age of 10 and 16, partly because he was of the age of a grandfather and wanted granddaughters. He called them his “angelfish.” Some believe he was trying to relive his own lost childhood. Others link it to the drowning death of his favorite daughter and because he was then estranged from his other children.

Mark Twain and Dorothy Quick met aboard the S. S. Minnetonka in 1907. He was seventy-two years old, she almost eleven. The two began a great friendship that would endure until his death some years later. Dorothy became a frequent houseguest of Twain’s, both at his Tuxedo Park home, in New York City, and in Redding Connecticut. Her recollections of life in those places dispel the image of Twain as a man bitter and pessimistic in his later years, revealing him instead as warm and fun-loving. Together they read his stories, which she knew well and loved, and he encouraged her to write, forming the “Author’s League for Two.”

For her birthday in 1907, Twain sent her a telegram that read: “I tried to get some elephants for your birthday but they charge ten thousand dollars apiece, 3 for twenty-five thousand, I can get one elephant & sixteen hundred monkeys for the same money if you prefer.” She told him she would like his books, which he sent along with a tiny white elephant.

Twain died in 1910. Near the end of her life, Quick published Enchantment: A Little Girl’s Friendship With Mark Twain (1961), republished as Mark Twain and Me (1999). Her story was later dramatized as the film Mark Twain and Me (1991) with Jason Robards as Twain and Amy Stewart as Quick.


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