University Archives


Mark Twain Heavily Annotated "A Woman's Part in the Revolution"

(TWAIN, Mark) HAMMOND, Mrs. John Hays. A Woman's Part in the Revolution. London: Longmans, Green, 1897. Octavo, original red cloth recased; housed in a custom chemise and half morocco slipcase. Text leaves embrowned and a bit fragile but sound, only a bit of soiling to front board.

First edition, presentation copy, of this inside account of the Jameson raid—an important precursor to the Boer War—written by the wife of John Hays Hammond, a leading member of the Johannesburg Reform Committee who was implicated in the plot and jailed, inscribed by the author on the verso of the title page, "To dear Mark Twain who cheered many a heavy heart before he reached mine. From the Author, April 1897." With Twain's copious annotations throughout in both ink and pencil, amounting to almost 150 words on 18 different pages, the book was cited by Twain repeatedly in Following the Equator.

On a world lecture tour in the mid 1890s (later recounted in Following the Equator), Twain arrived in South Africa at a particularly tense time. He "arrived in South Africa in May, slightly more than four months after the Jameson raid, a precursor to the Boer War. Twain took a keen interest in the episode, even visiting some of the raiders in jail in Pretoria. Prompted by Cecil Rhodes, who was the premier of Cape Colony, Dr. Leander Starr Jameson had led some 600 men in an attack on the Transvaal, hoping to stir up a revolt among the uitlanders (non-Boers) and to provoke intervention by Great Britain. The raid failed when Jameson and his men were captured after only four days. In South Africa Twain's primary sympathies were with the Africans, exploited by Boer and Briton alike. Between the Boers and the Britons, however, Twain sided with former, seeing them as underdogs against a mighty imperialist power" (The Mark Twain Encyclopedia, 92). (This episode was part of a series of events that would lead to the Boer War and ultimately to the combination of the Orange Free State and Transvaal with the British Cape Colony and Natal into the Union of South Africa, firmly in the British orbit.)

Within the Transvaal, the "uitlanders" were represented by the recently-formed Reform Committee, headed by among others John Hays Hammond, an American mining engineer. When collusion between the Reform Committee and Jameson became apparent, the Boers arrested all of them and threw them in jail. The initial sentences were harsh—many were sentenced to death—but Boer leader Paul Kruger quickly commuted these sentences to extravagant fines: Hammond alone had to pay $125,000.

This first edition of Woman's Part in the Revolution was written by Hammond's wife, Natalie Hays Hammond. According to Twain's main biographer, "Mrs. Hammond was a fellow-Missourian; Clemens had known her in America" (Mark Twain: A Biography, 1018). Twain cites it a number of times in his discussion of the Jameson raid in Following the Equator, using her as one of his main sources of information: "Three books have added much light to this: 'South Africa As It Is,' by Mr. Statham, an able writer partial to the Boers; 'The Story of an African Crisis,' by Mr. Garrett, a brilliant writer partial to Rhodes; and 'A Woman's Part in the Revolution,' by Mrs. John Hays Hammond, a vigorous and vivid diarist, partial to the Reformers" (Chapter 65).

One can see a direct relationship between some of Twain's autograph notes in this copy and what he would later write in Following the Equator. On page 8 of Hammond's account, Twain has written "'Come to our relief!' (Letter). But as soon as they heard that he had started, they shipped the W & C away by rail." In Following the Equator, Twain writes that "As soon as it was known in Johannesburg that he was on his way to rescue the women and children, the grateful people put the women and children in a train and rush them for Australia."

Later, sections of Hammond's book that are underlined or commented on by Twain are directly quoted in Following the Equator, such as when he quotes her verbatim about the Reform Committee swearing allegiance to the Transvaal flag "with uncovered heads and upraised arms." At one point, Twain has written at the top of one page "Natalie's sermon the 'letter,' over a discussion of a letter found on the battlefield directly implicating the Reform Committee in collusion with Jameson.

Twain's commentary in Following the Equator: "Mrs. Hammond gives him [Jameson] a sharp rap for his supposed carelessness, and emphasizes her feelings about it with burning italics: 'It was picked up on the battlefield in a leathern pouch, supposed to be Dr. Jameson's saddle-bag. Why, in the name of all that is discreet and honourable, didn't he eat it!' She requires too much. He was not in the service of the Reformers—except ostensibly; he was in the service of Mr. Rhodes. It was the only plain English document, undarkened by ciphers and mysteries… which squarely implicated the Reformers in the raid, and it was not to Mr. Rhodes' interest that it should be eaten."

At page 152, Twain has drawn an arrow pointing to his name, which he has underlined, in a passage directly about him: "Mark Twain came to the Rand. He visited the men at Pretoria. My husband did the honours of the prison, and introduced him to the Reformers. He talked a long while to them, sitting on a dry goods box. Expressed his satisfaction at finding only one journalist in the crowd, and no surprise that the lawyers were largely represented. He assured them that they were to be congratulated and envied, although they did not know it. There was no place one was so safe from interruption as in a jail. He recalled to their minds Cervantes and Columbus—it was an honour to share captivity with such men as these."

A full list of Twain's autograph notes:
p. 8: "'Come to our relief!' (Letter). But as soon as they heard that he had started, they shipped the W & C away by rail."
p. 11: "Dec. 30. News of the invasion."
p. 12: "31st Dec… lines were already cut… Repudiates the raid."
p. 13: "Dec. 31 At that time there had been no news, but only a rumor that we've licked the Dutchmen. No, they knew it the day before"
p. 17: "Girt by a cordon of soldiers—which breed?…. Hammond"
p. 25: "Reformers would salute the flag and 'stand by Jameson.'"
p. 30: "Jan 2?"
p. 31: "Saturday… [after underlined "Jameson left Pitsani Sunday night"] who had his orders Dec. 28."
p. 32: "J's raid known Monday afternoon"
p. 33: "2500 Guns"
p. 36: "[crossed out] why they didn't go and [end] … Why could not have gone out to help J."
p. 37: "Natalie's sermon the 'letter'"
p. 53: "Character of the Committee"
p. 66: "$250,000,000 among 64"
p. 111: "[keep this quiet]"
p. 117: "The Reformers' statement. Nothing about SA Co. … See 288 A as it is."
p. 120: "The judge not a citizen."
p. 152: [An arrow pointing to his name, which he has underlined].

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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