Tom Sawyer, Detective

Tom Sawyer, Detective is an 1896 novel by Mark Twain. It is a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), and Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894). Tom Sawyer attempts to solve a mysterious murder in this burlesque of the immensely popular detective novels of the time. Like Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the story is told using the first-person narrative voice of Huck Finn.

Tom Sawyer, Detective
Edward Penfield - Harper's August. Tom Sawyer Detective - Google Art Project.jpg
Harper's Magazine poster by Edward Penfield for the debut of Tom Sawyer, Detective (August 1896)
AuthorMark Twain
CountryUnited States
SeriesTom Sawyer
GenreDetective fiction
PublisherHarper Brothers
Publication date
Media typePrint, Audio CD
Preceded byTom Sawyer Abroad 
TextTom Sawyer, Detective at Wikisource

Film adaptationsEdit


In 1909, Danish schoolmaster Valdemar Thoresen claimed, in an article in the magazine Maaneds, that the plot of the book had been plagiarized from Steen Blicher's story The Vicar of Weilby. Blicher's work had been translated into German, but not into English, and Twain's secretary wrote Mr. Thoresen a letter, stating, "Mr. Clemens is not familiar with Danish and does not read German fluently, and has not read the book you mention, nor any translation or adaptation of it that he is aware of. The matter constituting 'Tom Sawyer, Detective,' is original with Mr. Clemens, who has never been consciously a plagiarist."[1]

However, in an opening note in the book preceding the first chapter (as republished by Gutenberg Press), the author states:

Note: Strange as the incidents of this story are, they
are not inventions, but facts—even to the public confession
of the accused. I take them from an old-time Swedish
criminal trial, change the actors, and transfer the scenes
to America. I have added some details, but only a couple of
them are important ones. — M. T.]"[2]

As the story material predated Blicher, Twain/Clemens[clarification needed] had as much right to use it as Blicher.

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