HEIRS SUE TO HALT TWAIN 'WHO-DUN-IT'
Supreme Court Justice Aron Steuer reserved decision yesterday in a suit brought by trustees of the will of Samuel L. Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, to restrain the publication of a detective story written by the author in 1876 on the ground that it would injure his "fame and reputation."
The suit named as defendants Lew D. Feldman, 45 East Fifty-first Street, owner of a manuscript and rare book business, and Allan Hyman, 535 Fifth Avenue, who said they purchased the manuscript for $1,250 at an auction here on Jan. 8, 1945.
Mr. Feldman described himself as an authority on Mark Twain and detective stories. He said the manuscript was an important step in the development of the American detective novel, following as it did the work of Edgar Allan Poe and preceding the publication in 1878 of "The Leavenworth Case" by Anna Katharine Green.
Thomas G. Chamberlain, an attorney and trustee of the estate, testified that on Feb. 21 Mr. Feldman had expressed the belief that the manuscript "was the first detective story ever written in America" and that he wished permission to publish a fine edition that would sell for $10 to $15.
Mr. Feldman said later that sixteen copies of the volume had been printed to obtain the copyright and that if the Mark Twain trustees were unsuccessful in the suit, the defendants intended to publish the work.
The trustees charge that the work was published without their knowledge or authority and against their wishes as well as in violation of their "literary rights" in the manuscript and assert that continued publication would injure their property rights and the name and reputation of the author. They ask that all printed copies be surrendered to them. They also ask for an accounting of each sale as well as damages.
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