Twain, Mark (1835–1910)
Pseudonym of author Samuel Langhorne Clemens.
Throughout his life, the great humorist and observer of the
world around him often reflected upon the psychic and metaphysical
events of which he was aware. In 1880 he wrote an article
on ‘‘mental telegraphy’’ that related a personal experience
of telepathy. He also had a vivid premonitory dream of the
death of his brother Henry. Twain was an early and long-term
member of the Society for Psychical Research, London.
After his death, various posthumous communications and
writings were claimed. In 1917, the story Jap Herron was published
in New York, purporting to come from the discarnate
Mark Twain, as received by Emily Grant Hutchings and Lola
V. Hays. Hutchings, the recorder of the Patience Worth material
of Pearl Lenore Curran of St. Louis, was herself an author who
greatly admired Mark Twain. She had a keen sense of somewhat
similar humor and a strong tinge of melancholy like Mark
Twain’s. She had strongly wished him to communicate through
her. All this furnished an ideal condition for subconscious production.
James H. Hyslop resolved the problem by interesting crossreference
experiments. The two women received the communications
through the ouija board; the presence of both of them
was necessary to operate it. They were brought by Hyslop to
Boston. He gave each woman, at separate times, five sittings
with the medium ‘‘Mrs. Chenoweth’’ (see Minnie M. Soule).
But he did not admit them to the séance room until ‘‘Mrs.
Chenoweth,’’ who knew nothing of them, went into trance, and
he made them sit behind her where they could not be seen.
Instead of the usual family relatives, Mark Twain purported
to communicate with each of them. He used many of the same
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Twain, Mark
expressions that came through the ouija board, mentioned incidents
in his life to prove his identity, described what he was
doing through the women, and revealed the password that he
gave to Hyslop in a St. Louis sitting.
‘‘The outcome of the experiments,’’ concluded Hyslop in
the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research (July
1917), ‘‘is that there is abundant evidence that Mark Twain is
behind the work connected with his name, though the student
of psychology would probably find abundant evidence that it
was colored more or less by the mind through which it came.’’
The conclusion also applied to Brent Roberts, another posthumous
Mark Twain novel that the two women received.
In Hyslop’s Contact with the Other World (1919), a long chapter
was devoted to other evidential spirit communications from
Mark Twain.
Paine, Albert Bigelow. Mark Twain. 3 vols. N.p., 1912.