Jap Herron

Emily Grant Hutchings was born on January 30, 1870 in Hannibal, Missouri to Carl Schmidt and his wife. Carl was a minister and Emily’s mother was a doctor.

Emily and her husband, Edwin, met Mark Twain (also from Hannibal) in June 1902.

Emily and Mark Twain exchanged a few letters about writing after their meeting. On the envelope of one of the letters, he wrote “Idiot! Preserve this.”

Emily mostly wrote for newspapers and magazines. She wrote about the daily lives of women of the time.

Mark Twain died on April 21, 1910.

In 1917, Emily published a book entitled Jap Herron: A Novel Written From the Ouija Board. She claimed that she, along with a medium named Lola V. Hays, had been communicating with Mark Twain via a Ouija board for 2 years. Through this communication, he had dictated the book and Emily had typed it up and published it.

The novel follows Jasper James Herron in Happy Hollow, Missouri sometime after the Civil War.

Jasper, known as Jap, loses his father at 12 and runs away when his mother remarries.

He takes a job at the local newspaper office where he grows up and makes friends, as well as enemies.

He marries the banker’s daughter and has a child named Jasper.

In September 1917, The New York Times ran an unfavorable review of the book saying if this was the “best that Mark Twain can do by reaching across the barrier,”… his admirers should hope “that he will hereafter respect that boundary.” This didn’t dissuade people from purchasing the book.

Mark Twain’s daughter, Clara Clemens, sued Emily and her publisher in 1918. Clara couldn’t prove the her father hadn’t written the book, but Harper and Brother’s publishers had exclusive rights to all Mark Twain publications. Clara decided that Emily should sign the rights to the book over to them. If not, she would have to admit that Mark Twain wasn’t the author.

The lawsuit never made it to court. Emily agreed to end publication of the novel and destroy the existing copies.

A digital copy of the book can be found here:

https://publicdomainreview.org/collections/jap-herron-a-novel-written-from-the-ouija-board-1917/

Emily died on January 18, 1960 at the age of 89. She was senile and malnourished at the time of her death. Her cremains were unclaimed and stored in St. Louis, Missouri. The cemetery invited anyone who might want the ashes to contact them.

A video summary of this week’s post can be found at

Sources/Photo Credits

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