"Many a small thing has been made large by
the right kind of advertising"--Hank Morgan

Promoting the Yankee

    Advertising plays a prominent part of the narrative of Connecticut Yankee, where even the knights' tales at the Round Table or the hermits' penances in the Valley of Holiness come to seem like publicity campaigns. Hank himself uses advertising seriously to promote his various schemes and ironically (on the assumption that any connection with advertisements is a cheapening one) to undermine the authority of king and church.
    The campaign to sell his new novel, however, proceeded on the same lines MT had used earlier. By October, 1889, according to MT's agent at Webster & Company, over 400 sales prospectuses had been sent out to agents, and "a great many thousand" circulars to prospective buyers. In November, a sampling of episodes from the novel appeared in The Century Magazine. And on December 10, the date of the novel's American publication, an interview with MT appeared in The New York Times. MT took care to keep the novel's attack on religion out of the publicity material. Connecticut Yankee was promoted mainly as both a humorous work, and as a flattering tribute to American values.
    In the early 1890s, Webster published the novel, together with Huck Finn and The Prince and the Pauper, in a boxed set, and billed all three as "the most popular of [MT's] books." Huck would have called that "a stretcher": sales of Yankee had been disappointing. About 32,000 copies were sold in its first year, compared to 67,000 for Innocents Abroad and about 50,000 for Huck Finn.

Back to MT IN HIS TIME Homepage Back to YankeeHomepage MT Bibliography