Ownership of Salacious Literature
TO THE EDITOR OF THE NEW YORK TIMES.
Mark Twain is recognized by millions throughout the world as America's foremost writer. Occasionally comment has been made indicating that he had an unclean mind, but always on examination it has developed that the comment was without any substantial foundation.
The Times on April 2 carried a story about a case presently awaiting decision in the United States Supreme Court with reference to the validity of a law in Ohio making it a crime to own salacious literature. A portion of the story read:
"Suppose," Justice Frankfurter said, "that he was a bibliophile - I collect first editions and I have an obscene book - not for that reason but because it was printed in 1527." Then he asked: "Am I guilty?"
"Any collector of obscenity would be guilty," Mrs. Mahon replied.
"Mark Twain was one of the biggest collectors," Justice Frankfurter said. "I can tell you right now where the collection is - but that is outside your jurisdiction."
The Hanover Bank of New York and I are trustees of the estate of Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain).
When I asked Justice Frankfurter about his remark concerning Mark Twain, he wrote me:
"I am very sorry indeed if my unauthenticated remark of what may have been either a hoax or an inaccuracy should have led you to the inconvenience of looking for a needle in a haystack, particularly if the needle isn't there."
He then refers to his "casual and regrettable remark about Mark Twain." Thus is appears that there was no substantial basis for his comment.
THOMAS G. CHAMBERLAIN
New York, May 2, 1961
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