The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]

This was based on a statement Mark Twain made to a British correspondent of the New York Journal (in some incorrect versions the New York Evening Sun) who tracked him down in London upon reports in America that Twain was dying there. Twain wrote out a note saying, "James Ross Clemens, a cousin of mine, was seriously ill two or three weeks ago in London but is well now. The report of my illness grew out of his illness; the report of my death was an exaggeration." This response was published 2 June 1897, and the longhand note is still preserved.

In 1906, Twain recalled the incident for his memoir that he told the reporter, "Say the report is exaggerated." On retyping the manuscript some months later, he scribbled the word "greatly" in front of "exaggerated," and it was published that way in The North American Review.

In Albert B. Paine's Mark Twain, a Biography, Vol. 2, ch. 197 (1912), the story is that Twain told the correspondent, "Just say the report of my death has been grossly exaggerated."

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Added on 2-Feb-22 | Last updated 2-Feb-22
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