Mark Twain, Santa Claus Impersonator

WNPR (Hartford) ran a segment this week about Mark Twain’s “Letter From Santa Claus” featuring an interview with The Mark Twain House‘s Director of Education, James Golden. You can listen to it below:

You can read the complete letter in the Mark Twain Project’s digital archive.

It is clear that Sam succeeded in instilling Susy (the receiver of Santa’s letter) with the spirit of the season. A few years later, in 1878, as a precocious six-year-old, she wrote a lengthy, bilingual letter to her grandmother about a visit from Santa Claus during her family’s residency in Munich. He delivered candles, nuts, apples, and dollar bills, but kept covering himself with “a big muffle” as though “he didn’t like anybody to see his face.” Susy reported, “I looked into his face, hard, – and he laughed.”

Despite this hint of suspiciousness, Susy was “glad about Santa Claus, that he came, because Julie [a childhood friend] was always saying there wasn’t any Santa Claus or anybody that came, that way, and brings children things.”

Before mailing the letter, Sam, with that twinge of guilt so common to parents, wrote in the margin: “This paragraph gives me a little pang.”

Season’s Greetings!