Biographies/Reviews/Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume I

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Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume I is about humorist Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835 – 1910). His penname and stage name was Mark Twain. He was author of travelogues, monologues, articles, short stories, stage plays, and novels – including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876). He grew up in Hannibal, Missouri. He went to school for seven years, where he won awards for his excellent spelling. He was then a typesetter for newspapers for ten years; then a riverboat pilot about four years. At some point he studied a book on English grammar, memorizing the rules. At the beginning of the American Civil War – after two weeks in the Hannibal Home Guard – he moved to the Nevada Territory in the American West where he worked for his brother; then prospected for silver for several months. He became a newspaper reporter in Virginia City, Nevada, in 1862. In a humorous editorial he challenged someone to a duel. The challenge was illegal. To escape prosecution, he fled to San Francisco in 1864. There, he worked for a newspaper and a magazine as Mark Twain. In 1866, a paper in Sacramento sent him to write articles about the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). When he returned to California, he lectured to paying audiences curious about the Sandwich Islands. After a book of his short stories was published, a newspaper sent him around the world to write about various locations. While working on a book about his trip around the world – doing research at the Library of Congress – he was the private secretary to a U.S. Senator. He then lectured about the trip, and his book based on it, The Innocents Abroad, was published. His fiancée’s father helped him buy a one-third interest in the newspaper, Buffalo Express. He got married in 1870. After his son was born, he sold his interest in the paper and moved to Hartford, Connecticut where his book publisher was. His oldest daughter was born in March of 1872 and his son died that June. After lecturing in England, the book he and C.D. Warner wrote, The Gilded Age, was published in Hartford and London. His second daughter Clara was born in 1874 and she left Clemens’ autobiography and other personal papers to the University of California at Berkeley in 1962; her daughter who died in 1966 was Clemens’ last descendant, and Berkeley’s project to publish his autobiography began in 1967.

Bancroft Library, Sept. 2010

Authorship[edit]

Everything in the book written by Mark Twain has been previously published. The Mark Twain Foundation has copyrighted the rest of the book. The Mark Twain Project is a trademark of the Regents of the University of California and has been working since 1967 to make “a comprehensive critical edition of everything Mark Twain wrote.” The Mark Twain Project is at the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. Mark Twain was born in 1835 and died in 1910.[1]

1 – 58[edit]

Mark Twain started writing his biography several times and quit each time. He at first had a chronological plan and found his memories did not come in that order. The publisher Harper and Brothers wanted the right to publish his autobiography 100 years after his death: they wanted no one to read it before 100 years had gone by. The humorist agreed but wanted to publish some of it as he could in magazines before he died. He found keeping a well-written diary too hard. He tried dictating his memoirs for a while in 1904. His helper was writing in longhand. Most of those dictations have never been found. In 1906, an experienced biographer asked Clemens for permission to write his biography. Clemens then began dictating his autobiography to his secretary and the biographer. He edited what his secretary typed and got some of his autobiography published serially in magazines.[2]

61 – 199[edit]

The section called Preliminary Manuscripts and Dictations, 1870 – 1905 contains unfinished stories, humorous monologs and declarative statements. One story is about people who sailed their lifeboat thousands of miles after their ship sunk. One monolog is about maids talking too much. The section does give some of his autobiography. Mark Twain’s family moved from Tennessee to Florida, Missouri where he was born. When he was about 2 ½ years old, they moved and forgot for several hours to bring him along. They moved to Hannibal, Missouri, his boyhood home. His father owned slaves, sold them and then rented slaves. Meanwhile, his family continued to own unpopulated land in Tennessee which they sold little by little over the years. His older brother Orion borrowed money and bought a newspaper. Twain became a writer and public speaker. He visited Europe and England. When he tells of investing $2,000 in a typesetting machine, he describes the con-man inventor: “. . . he is a dreamer, a visionary. His imagination runs utterly away with him . . . .” At one point in his life, Clemens intended to put footnotes in his stories which told what in his experience inspired that part of the story. This was to enable him to issue second editions of his stories for a longer copyright than a simple renewal, but then Congress extended the length of copyright renewal.[3]

203 – 467[edit]

Mark Twain photo portrait, Feb 7, 1871, cropped Repair.jpg
Mark Twain 1909.jpg
Riverboat on a pond in a Disney amusement park.

There are black and white photos of Clemens and of his family. Samuel L. Clemens became engaged to Olivia L. Langdon in 1869. Susy Clemens was a baby in 1873. In 1884 her younger sisters Clara and Jean were in a photo with her along with their big dog. In 1886, Susy Clemens was in the play, Prince and the Pauper. In 1889, all of Clemens’ daughters were in the play A Love-Chase. The Clemenses went on a world tour from 1895 – 96. Sam Clemens was in a photo with Helen Keller in 1895. He had a farm in Elmira, New York. In 1902 he had his picture taken in front of his boyhood home in Hannibal, Missouri. From 1903 – 4 he and his wife and daughters stayed in Florence, Italy, where his wife died. The humorist attended his 70th birthday dinner in December of 1905; everyone in the picture had long noses. A month later, Clemens and others sat on stage when Dr. Washington spoke on behalf of Tuskegee in January 1906. Clemens visited New Jersey in 1907 and Bermuda in 1908. In 1869, the year he became engaged, his hair was dark, above his ears but not short and he had a mustache and no wrinkles. By 1906 his hair covered his ears but not his collar, was white, and he had wrinkles and still had a mustache covering his upper lip to a little past the corners of his mouth.[4]

His family’s tradition was that after Noah’s Ark, there were some pirates and slavers among Clemens’ ancestors followed by an English ambassador to Spain, a judge at the trial of Charles I, and colonists to Virginia.[5] Clemens and C. D. Warner wrote the comedy, Gilded Age, which was on stage in 1876.[6] Clemens’ father and mother married in Kentucky and she brought some property – two or three Negroes – along. They moved to Tennessee, where his father got 100,000 acres of land. Clemens’ sisters Pamela and Margaret and his brothers Orion and Benjamin were born in Tennessee.[7]

Instead of prospecting, his father worked in Florida, Missouri, where Clemens was born in 1835. After a fire, they moved to Hannibal, a village by the Mississippi river thirty miles away. [8] Later, he and his brothers and sister inherited the Tennessee land and sold it for cash through the years.[9] When he was a boy his family used to stay at a farm a couple of times a year; his mother’s sister was married to a farmer who owned slaves; Uncle Daniel, a middle-aged slave, sometimes told them stories at night in the kitchen.[10] Three miles below Hannibal was Tom Sawyer’s cave which in 1906 he was told in a cable from a reporter was being ground into cement.[11]

One day his big brother Orion came home on a surprise visit, and they had moved without telling him.[12] After their father died, Clemens left elementary school and became a printer’s apprentice.[13] Later, Orion hired him, but his paper went out of business four years later.[14] Over the next few years Clemens worked for printers in St. Louis, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington – because he wanted to tour those cities – then he worked for his brother a while again; in his brother’s wife’s home town in the south, where Orion had started another printing business.[15] Clemens then worked in a printing office in Cincinnati, Ohio, for several months; he then borrowed money from his sister’s husband or nephew’s savings and paid a steamboat pilot to teach him the trade; he got a well-paying job at it and supported his brother Orion’s family until the outbreak of the Civil War; he then went west with them: Orion had become a lawyer and had been appointed Secretary of the Nevada Territory by Lincoln.[16]

One time Twain was shaving and cussing. After he noticed his wife was awake, she cussed and said, “There, now you know how it sounds.”[17] He was introduced to her by her brother.[18] Before that he was a reporter in the Sandwich Islands for the Sacramento Union. He then did lectures in towns in California and Nevada about the islands that audiences paid admission to. He also did a lecture about San Francisco. He then sailed west around the world, a trip he reported on for the Alta. He lectured about the trip and had a book contract about it with the American Publishing Company of Hartford. He named the book The Innocents Abroad.[19] He met his brother-in-law on his trip around the world.[20]

The American Publishing Company of Hartford published his first six books and paid him a royalty, five percent on the first, and only seven and a half percent on the second and so on. Each contract negotiation, he kept asking for half of the profits. They raised the royalty to only ten percent. Then, for A Tramp Abroad they paid him half the profits. He then got another publisher, J. R. Osgood. Osgood published Prince and the Pauper and paid Twain only $17,000. Then, Twain paid Osgood to publish Old Times on the Mississippi. Twain then published Huckleberry Finn himself and was surprised it made a profit.[21]

The Clemenses first child, Langdon, was born when they lived in Buffalo.[22] They moved to Hartford when he was one.[23] When he was almost two, he died of diphtheria.[24] Their second child was Susy. She grew up in Hartford in a mansion with servants and also, in the summer, on their farm in Elmira. When she was little she wondered what life was for. When she was 24 she got a high fever; she want blind a couple of hours before she went into a coma and she died two days later.[25] When she was 12 she was in a parlor version of Prince and the Pauper done a few times in the Warner’s mansion before 84 people per audience. When she was 13, she started writing a biography of her father, and he included it in his autobiography.[26] Their third child, Clara, was born in 1874.[27] She was baptized when an infant.[28] She and her sister used to sit on the arms of his chair while he made up stories for them.[29] In Prince and the Pauper she played Lady Jane Grey with electrifying spirit.[30] She and her mother went along in 1896 when Clemens went around the world again by ship.[31] Their fourth child was Jean. She was too young to be in Prince and the Pauper. She was three at the time.[32] Later, she wrote a letter to England to her father about the death of her big sister. She also had not gone on the ships around the world.[33] After that she once overheard two of their servants she had known all her life debating about which one had worked for them the longest.[34]

Twain smoked, drank, and cussed. His favorite game was billiards. He did not like to go to church, and he belonged to no political party.[35] In 1906 a very large crowd came to hear Twain speak for the Young Men’s Christian Association. They could not all fit into the Majestic Theater so the police were called to prevent disorder when the doors opened.[36]

Twain got some of his writing ideas from the Newspapers. For example, in 1906 a group of Philippine natives were resisting the U. S. takeover. Their hideout was discovered and bombarded with artillery. There were 15 U. S. casualties and 900 enemy dead – including children, women and babies according to a cablegram to the U. S. newspapers from a physician. At first the papers called it a victory. President Roosevelt’s message to General Wood was reported as, “I congratulate you and the officers and men of your command upon the brilliant feat of arms wherein you and they so well upheld the honor of the American flag.” Newspapers then began using the word “massacre.”[37]

Although Twain supported the goal of Russian Revolution, he was unable to attend their fundraiser. He had a prior engagement.[38] He was attending a fundraiser for a group who wanted blind people to be independent of the government. Helen Keller was unable to attend that meeting, but sent a letter saying a job was what blind people needed. Twain read her letter to the audience. Clemens first met Helen Keller when she was 14. She was asked what Clemens was famous for and she said “For his humor. . . .” Clemens said out loud, “And for his wisdom” and she instantly said the same thing. Clemens supposed it was a case of mind reading by her or himself. Later, she could tell who he was the second time he patted her lightly on the head. He called it a miracle.[39]

469 – 541[edit]

Samuel Clemens, 1850
Olivia Clemens, 1869
Clara Clemens, 1908

The volume’s explanatory notes, beginning page 469, give the locations in the text they are discussing. They could be read at the same time as, or after, what Clemens wrote. To look topics up, the volume has an Index.[40]

In his childhood, Clemens spent summer vacations on his mother’s sister’s farm in Florida, Missouri.[41] In his adulthood, he spent summers on his wife’s sister’s farm in Elmira, New York. His sister-in-law built an octagonal hut for him there to be his writer’s retreat, in which he worked on his famous books.[42]

When Clemens parents moved to Hannibal, they left him behind. When they ended a summer visit to the Quarles’ farm when he was 7 or 8, they left him behind.[43]

In 1881 Clemens wrote Harris, author of Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings, about his own version of “The Golden Arm,” “. . . Of course I tell it in the negro dialect . . . Old Uncle Dan’l, a slave of my uncle’s aged 60, used to tell us children yarns every night by the kitchen fire . . .”[44]

Clemens’ teen years were spent as a printer’s apprentice; he then worked for his big brother’s newspaper, the Hannibal Western Union. His first story was published by that paper in 1851.[45]

From 1862 to 1868 Clemens reported, traveled, lectured and wrote a novel. He worked for a newspaper in Virginia City and then San Francisco. After he was fired from reporting in San Francisco, he went to the Sandwich Islands to write travel letters for a paper in Sacramento. He then traveled lecturing to audiences in California and Nevada about the Sandwich Islands. After that he traveled around the world writing travel letters for another paper. About that trip around the world he wrote Innocents Abroad, published in 1868.[46]

The writer and lecturer Ralph Keeler who had encouraged Clemens to lecture and who had been very happy to see one of his own books in a library was assassinated at 24 while reporting for the New York Tribune on a war in Cuba.[47]

From 1866 through 1872 Clemens traveled in the U.S. performing, in big cities, lectures he wrote such as The Frozen Truth and Roughing It. In December 1867 he went with Olivia Langdon and her family to hear Dickens give a reading in New York. In 1869 he hired a talent agent in Boston.[48]

He became a mugwump and supported Cleveland for President in 1868. Then in 1876 he supported a Republican, Hayes, and got an angry letter from his cousin about it.[49]

In 1873 Clemens was persuaded by the agent of Charles Dickens to lecture for a while in London. While he was there Clemens scrap-booked reports of an interesting trial in the news intending to base a sketch on the clippings; a sketch based on them was included in a chapter of his Following the Equator in 1897.[50]

After a securities speculator who grew up in Geneseo, New York, lost all of President Grant’s money, Sam Clemens got the contract to publish Grant’s memoirs. He told grant he pre-sold books before printing them. Also, he advanced Grant some cash to live on. Clemens named his publishing house after its general manager, Charles Webster, a native of Fredonia, New York. The company published Clemens books from Huckleberry Finn to Tom Sawyer Abroad before declaring bankruptcy in 1894.[51]

In July 1895, Clemens began a year-long lecture tour to make money after the Paige typesetting company and also his publishing business, C.L. Webster & Co., went out of business. He spoke in English speaking places such as the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa, and England. His wife and their daughter, Clara, went on the tour also. Based on the trip, Clemens wrote Following the Equator.[52]

In 1877 a play Clemens helped write, Ah Sin, failed.[53]

Clemens speculated a lot of his money on the Paige automatic typesetting machine. The letters did not need to be taken out of a box or returned to a box. Once Paige finally got the machine so it could justify type, it did not work as well as its competitor, the Linotype machine. It had many more parts and kept breaking down. Clemens kept getting talked into investing more and more when originally he thought the machine was ready for market; in 1890 he found it somewhat humorous and wrote about it for his autobiography. Paige died in poverty in 1917.[54]

Clemens and his family rented mansions near Florence, Italy, in 1892 and 1903. His 1903 landlord was living over the stables. Clemens’ wife’s secretary wrote of her, “Here she remains, a menace to the peace of the Clemens household . . .”[55]

In 1896 Clemens novel Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc was published. Then, from Sept. 1899 to Aug. 1900 he wrote and rewrote the introduction for an English translation of Joan of Arc’s trials. After the editor suggested he use the French spelling of Joan of Arc, Clemens withdrew his introduction.[56]

In June of 1897 Clemens sent to the Hearst newspapers three reports of Victoria’s 60th anniversary celebration of being queen of England.[57] In 1899 he got My Debut as a Literary Person published in Century Magazine. In the article he told of interviewing in Honolulu in 1866 the survivors of a ship that sank. They sailed a lifeboat a long time before being rescued. Clemens felt it was an “amazing adventure.”[58]

542 – 592[edit]

Typesetter.
Reporter.
Public speaker.
Writer.

When Clemens was eleven years old, he was too upset about something to go to school. His mother, in an 1885 interview, said, “. . . I concluded to let him go into a printing office to learn the trade, as I couldn’t have him running wild. He did so, and has gradually picked up enough education to enable him to do about as well as those who were more studious in early life.”[59]

When almost 30, Clemens began using the pen name “Mark Twain. When Clemens was a substitute editor of the Territorial Enterprise, he had difficulty thinking of editorials. He challenged Mr. Cutler to challenge him to a duel. This was because Cutler had written to protest something rude Clemens had said about Cutler’s wife in an editorial on her group raising money to help nurse Union soldiers. Dueling was illegal. Clemens then left the Nevada Territory. In his story about the event, which he included in his autobiography, he replaced Cutler with Laird. He said that now, because dueling is dangerous and sinful, he would simply kill someone who challenged him; also, that he had sent Laird several challenges. And one challenge was almost accepted until Laird was told falsely that Clemens was a good shot. The governor then told both of them to leave Nevada or get two to ten years in prison.[60]

Clemens was a reporter in Virginia City, Nevada, for almost two years. In May of 1864 he moved to San Francisco. There he wrote for a morning paper and a weekly magazine. In December he went to Tuolumne County to sign a bail bond for a friend of his from Nevada. After his friend fled to Virginia City, Clemens paid the bond, became short of funds and stayed with his friend’s brother, helping him mine, and then returned to San Francisco, having been away for almost three months.[61]

Dr. James Rogers Newton (1810 – 1883) performed massively attended public “healings.” His practice was by “the laying on of hands.” Clemens wife was bedridden from weakness during her teenage years. Dr. Newton visited her twice; the first time was successful temporarily. The second visit occurred about two and a half years before Clemens met her. She was also given assisted muscle movement therapy in New York City at the Institute of Swedish Movement Cure.[62]

In 1874 the novel by Twain and Warner called The Gilded Age got bad reviews. For example, the Chicago Tribune called the book a “deliberate deceit” and the Daily Graphic said the book was an “incoherent series of sketches.” The Daily Graphic had an advance copy of the novel and reviews in other papers were based on what the Daily Graphic had said. The Clemens, Twain five-act play based on The Gilded Age was named Colonel Sellers.[63]

In December of 1877 Mark Twain was one of many speakers at Whittier’s birthday dinner in Boston, attended by about 50 people interested in poetry. His speech was about Longfellow, Emerson, and Holmes together drunk, going into the cabin of a California gold miner, bossing him around in poetry to make them dinner and sing for them, and then taking the miner’s boots “to leave behind footprints on the sands of time.” While Clemens spoke he was hoping the audience would laugh or at least smile. Nobody did and when he finished nobody clapped. Emerson said he was sitting to far away to hear the speech. The Boston Transcript said the speech “was in bad taste and entirely out of place.” The Boston Advertiser said “ the amusement was intense, while the subjects of the wit, Longfellow, Emerson, and Holmes, enjoyed it as much as any.”[64]

Clemens first met the Booker Washington (1856 – 1915) at a reception in 1899 where there was over 1,500 guests. In 1906 they both spoke at a fundraiser for Tuskegee at Carnegie Hall. Washington was hired President of Tuskegee, spoke at fundraisers for the Alabama college, and favored “separate but equal” schools for the races. He looked part white. At the fundraiser, Thomas Dixon, the author of a novel about the KKK freeing the South from post-war Negro rule, said he would donate a lot of money if Washington would say in his speech that he opposed amalgamation of the races. Washington’s response was he had nothing to say on the subject.[65]

In June of 1902 Clemens received an honorary LL.D. (Doctor of Laws) from the University of Missouri at Columbia; he also spent a few days in Hannibal – his final visit there.[66]

Clemens read in the newspapers about the 1905 Russian Revolution, which was crushed with the arrest of its leaders. They had organized a general strike after “Bloody Sunday,” the fatal shooting of 1,000 of their force while peacefully protesting in St. Petersburg.[67]

From November to April 1906 Clemens was a speaker at several events in New York and Washington. One was at the Players Club of the arts in New York which had expelled him for non-payment of dues but then made him an honorary member. At the banquet Clemens listened to the speakers before him to help him think of things to say. He told a story from an unpublished book and as an encore read the Jumping Frog. One of the speakers before him was a painter who died on the Titanic in 1912.[68]


592 - 650[edit]

Mark Twain birthplace
Mark Twain's Boyhood Home
Clemens’ in Hartford, CT
His wealthy sister-in-law’s house in Elmira, where he and his wife and kids spent summers.

In the fall of 1868 Clemens was lecturing at various places and occasionally showing up in Elmira to propose to his girl. After he fell out of a wagon at the end of one visit, her father asked for references. He gave him six references. Then, a month later he gave him ten more references. He was told by her father how the first six had answered. For example, one clergyman had said Clemens would fill a drunkard’s grave; that he had talent but was not likely to put it to much use. Another said that he would rather burry a daughter than let her marry such a fellow.[69]

His baby son died of a bacterial infection called diphtheria in the spring of 1872. Earlier, his son was almost frozen to death when the furs wrapped around him fell off his legs while Clemens was thinking about something.[70] Clemens called extrasensory perception mental telegraphy and wrote two articles about it for Harper’s Monthly.[71]

Some of Clemens’ characters were based on people he had met. For example, in an 1899 interview “Huck Finn’s” sister said, “Yes, I reckon it was him. Sam and our boys run together considerable them days . . .”[72]

In about 1881 Clemens, his daughter Susy when she was 13, and someone named Major Pond want to see the Brooklyn Bridge. The Bridge moved under the heat of the sun. Clemens and his daughter then went to a girl’s college called Vassar, where Clemens read two funny stories, including his telling of an old ghost story called The Golden Arm, the end of which startles the audience.[73]

In 1881 Clemens decided to let J.R. Osgood publish The Prince and the Pauper, and required the company to sell by subscription, a way they had never tried before. Clemens’ readers were or via subscribers of the American Publishing Company, however. Nevertheless, Osgood published two more of Clemens’ books: Stolen White Elephant and Life on the Mississippi, which Clemens later referred to as Old Times on the Mississippi. Life on the Mississippi actually cost him money.[74]

Clemens older brother Orion’s brutally honest autobiography, Autobiography of a Crank, which he gave to Sammy in 1882, was never published even by himself. A lot of it was lost in Grand Central Station, July 11, 1907. The surviving few pages include Orion’s story of being left behind when his parents moved to Hannibal: “The wagon had gone a few feet when I was discovered and invited to enter.”[75]

In 1887 at a reading in Boston, Professor Norton introduced Clemens, including the rumor that Darwin read Clemens’ books at bedtime to get “a good night’s rest.”[76]

The script of Prince and the Pauper was by Abby Sage Richardson. In 1889, Edward H. House filed an injunction to prevent performance, saying he had dramatic rights to the novel since 1886.[77]

From 1891 – 1900 Clemens lectured for pay in various countries around the world. This was because his printing press investment and his publishing company both went bankrupt, and he owed a lot of money because of it. He finally paid off his creditors in full in 1898. That year he was living in Austria in Europe and the United States defeated Spain in a war over a sunken U.S. ship. Instead of giving the Philippines independence from Spain, the U.S. kept the Philippines, which Clemens and others criticized.[78]

In 1902 he read two of his short stories to a Bible class and then left early, saying “. . . present indications . . .icicles.” In 1906 he was invited to speak Rockefeller’s class again. He turned down the invitation because the rich teacher thought Old Testament Joseph was a good business man while Clemens thought the slave was a crook.[79]

Clemens told Helen Keller funny stories which she understood by touching her fingers to his lips.[80] In 1905 Clemens wrote a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe saying that if Roosevelt had let the war between Russia and Japan continue the socialist Russians would have been able to overthrow the Czar. In 1906 Clemens’ 30-year-old neighbor, Charlotte Teller, tried to get him to speak at a fundraiser for weapons for Russian revolutionaries and they became friends and there were rumors she wanted his money.[81]

On April 19, 1906 Clemens spoke at a fundraiser because he wanted to build a steamboat landing in New York City named after Robert Fulton, whom he considered to be the inventor of the commercial steamboat. After he finished speaking, he appealed for donations to help the victims of the San Francisco earthquake which had happened the day before. The Fulton memorial was never built.[82]

Example Works[edit]

  • Life on the Mississippi, published 1883 – abut a young man learning to navigate and steer a large, flat-bottomed river boat, powered by steam engine, hundreds of miles up the Mississippi river in the mid 19th century.[83]
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, published 1884 – about a boy who rides a log raft, with those bringing it to market, downstream on the Mississippi river in the mid 19th century; spells white and negro Missouri accents of the 19th century.[84]

His parents[edit]

John Marshall Clemens (1798 - 1847) in 1822 became a lawyer; 1823 married Jane Lampton; 1827 moved his family to Jamestown, Tennessee, opened a store, and became a clerk at the county court; 1835 moved to Florida, Missouri, and became a county judge and in that town his son Samuel was born; 1839 moved to Hannibal and somehow opened a store and became a justice of the peace; 1847 died of pneumonia or some chronic condition when Samuel was eleven years old. Jane L. Clemens (1803 - 1890) had seven children, three of which survived into adulthood. Her sister Patsy married a slave-owning farmer whose plantation Samuel was a guest at during his boyhood two to three months a year. Jane Clemens, after John Clemens died, lived with her son Orion then with her daughter Pamela then with her son Orion for the rest of her life.[85]

His siblings[edit]

His sister Pamela (1827 – 1904) was born in Jamestown, Tennessee. She went to a private high school in Hannibal. In the 1840s she gave music lessons; she played guitar and piano. In 1851 she became Mrs. Moffett and moved to St. Louis. Her children were Annie (1852 – 1950) and Samuel (1860 – 1908). In 1870 she moved to Fredonia, New York. Clemens’s brother Orion (1825 – 1897) was born in Gainesboro, Tennessee. In Hannibal, Missouri he became a printer’s apprentice. He then started the Hannibal Western Union and bought the Hannibal Journal. He employed his brothers Samuel and Henry as typesetters. He and his mother and his brother Henry then moved to Muscatine, Iowa. In 1855 he married Mary (Mollie) Stotts. Their daughter’s name was Jennie. In 1860 he campaigned for Lincoln and was rewarded by being appointed in 1861 Secretary of the Nevada Territory. His daughter died of spotted fever in 1864. After Nevada became a state, he lost his position there. Over the next 20 years, he tried several jobs: proofreader, author, lecturer, chicken farmer, lawyer and inventor. From the 1870s onward, his mother lived with him and his wife, and Clemens helped support them.[86]

His wife and kids[edit]

Clara, Jean, Livy and Susy in the early 1880s

Clemens’ wife Olivia (1845 – 1904) was born and raised in Elmira, New York. Her father, Jervis Langdon, was a wealthy coal merchant and her mother’s name was Olivia. They were religious and opposed slavery. She went to college. After she married Clemens, she moved to Buffalo, New York, where her son Langdon was born. He died in 1872. In 1871 they moved to Hartford, Connecticut. They rented before they built a house. They lived in that house from 1874 to 1891. They then rented in Europe and declared bankruptcy in 1894. She sheltered her husband’s book royalties from the bankruptcy by being given the copyrights to his works. From 1895 to 1896 she and her middle daughter Clara went along when Clemens went on a world lecture show, escaping the sickness which killed her daughter Susy and gave her daughter Jean epilepsy. She was in Italy in 1904 when she died.[87]

Clemens oldest daughter had the same first name as her mother and maternal grandmother. Olivia Susan Clemens (1872 - 1896) was known as Susy. She was home schooled. In 1890 she completed a semester of college. In the spring of 1891 she went with her family to Europe. She went to school in Geneva and then Berlin, taking language and singing lessons. In 1895 she and her sister Jean moved in with their aunt Susan in Elmira, New York. In August of 1896 she traveled to visit her childhood home in Hartford and came down with a fever diagnosed as spinal meningitis, from which she died.[88]

Clemens’ youngest daughter Jane Lampton Clemens (1880 - 1909) was named after his mother, and her nickname was Jean. She was home schooled. In 1896 she got sick with epilepsy. She went with her parents to Sweden the summer of 1899 to be treated by a famous doctor, and she began learning how to use a typewriter so she could type her father’s manuscripts. Ten years later she was sent to a sanatorium after her father started dictating some more of his autobiography. She returned after he finished and became his only secretary. Seven months later during a seizure she had a hart attack and died. Her father wrote an essay about her called Closing Words of My Autobiography.[89]

Clemens’ middle daughter Clara Samossoud (1874 – 1962) was home schooled. She and her parents and sisters lived in Europe from 1891 – 1895. In 1895 she lived in Berlin alone to study music. She then went with her parents on a trip around the world from 1895 – 1896. In 1897 the Clemenses lived in Vienna, where she studied piano and singing. In 1905 and 1906 she sometimes went to rest cures because of her breakdown after her mother died. She then did some traveling and sometimes gave recitals. In 1909 she talked her father into firing two of his employees who had gained control over his finances. That year, when she was 35, she married a Russian pianist who was four years younger than her. She published her biography of her father in 1931. Her first husband died when she was 62. They had one child, a daughter who had no children. In 1944 when Clara was 70 she married a Russian conductor who was 20 years younger than her. At her death in 1962 her father’s estate was disposed. Her second husband died in 1966, the same year as her daughter. She left her father’s personal papers to the University of California at Berkeley; she had lived in southern California, U.S.A., for decades.[90]

Clemens’s 70th birthday speech[edit]

Clemens spoke in a slow drawl. People laughed several times during his 70th birthday speech. His speech was at his 70th birthday dinner. He said he did not exercise and had always felt tired all the time. He said he only drank socially. He said he began smoking cheap cigars when he was younger than 11 years old, and that at 70 he considered himself to be old. He said he remembered his first birthday very well: "I hadn’t any hair. I hadn’t any teeth. I hadn’t any clothes. I had to go to my first banquet just like that."[91]

Documents and preparation[edit]

According to Harriet Smith, editor of the book, some of the manuscripts of Twain’s autobiography are handwritten by him, but most are transcripts of what he said, typed by helpers such as his secretaries and his youngest daughter. There are three drafts of much of the autobiography: an original, a copy used for the 25 installments of the book in North American Review, and a copy used for Paine’s 1924 edition of the book. Clemens proofread them. Into his dictations he often inserted earlier manuscripts he wrote and also letters, newspaper clippings and other documents. In Smith’s 2010 edition, Clemens instructions are not always followed. For example, she did not insert his article about the survivors of the sunken ship in his February 20, 1906 dictation. Also, she did not include in the January 12, 1906 dictation the illustrated magazine about his 70th birthday dinner. Discovered factual errors are pointed out in the book’s explanatory notes rather than corrected. She has made some corrections such as spelling and adding missing prepositions. She does not correct grammar when the text would lose the spoken style. For example, she believes “. . . the world’s sympathy and compassion are with her, where it belongs” is bad grammar but does not correct it.[92]

Reviews[edit]

Larry Rohter in his July 9, 2010 review in The New York Times describes Twain as a Colonel Sanders without the chicken who told stories, whose books Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer he had to read in high school. In writing his autobiography, Twain spoke his recollections and opinions to his secretary for a more natural, frank, colloquial tone than if he had written them down. Twain died on April 21, 1910. He was 74 years old. The content of his 500,000 word autobiography is being published in the random order he wrote it, and that is the way he wanted it to be. Previous editions of the work have put things in chronological order. They have also censored it for interest and propriety. This edition, published over 100 years after his death, has the material in the order he wrote it and uncensored. The University of California Press is publishing it in three volumes. Five percent of the first volume was never published before, and about fifty percent of all three volumes was never published before. Twain claims some shocking things, such as the elder Rockefeller paying taxes on only 2.5 million of his fortune and a U.S. Army overkill against six hundred Philippine savages resisting U.S. imperialism. In Twain’s boyhood in Missouri, he was not aware there was anything wrong about slavery. When Cleveland was U.S. President, Twain met him in the White House and got the First Lady’s autograph. Twain resented his publisher and an inventor for fleecing him, and also a rude landlord, from when he lived in Italy in 1904.[93]

Julie Bosman’s review on November 19, 2010, in The New York Times said the book is a four-pound, 500,000-word, $35.00 doorstopper more political than Twain’s previous works. The content is nonlinear although very readable. It seems like a reader could flip the book open at random to any part of it and not worry about plot. The book includes 200 pages of end notes. At first the publisher planned to print 7,500 copies. However, because it was being published a century after Twain’s death, as he wanted it to be, the book got in the news. Before the book’s November 15th publication date, magazines including Newsweek, Playboy, and Harper’s ran excerpts from the book. The book was quickly sold out and back-ordered. The publisher was University of California Press. A girl with them said, “We feel like, wow . . . people are interested in a 736-page scholarly tome about Mark Twain.” They rushed to send copies to bookstores in time for the holidays. The publisher hired a small printer in Michigan to print the books. They worked overtime producing 30,000 copies a week and got bigger trucks to bring the books to the warehouses. Instead of 7,500 copies, the book got on best seller lists with over 275,000 copies in November 2010. The book was the biggest success the University of California Press had in sixty years.[94]

Mark Twain Project Online[edit]

  • Mark Twain Project Online, www.marktwainproject.org, intends to include for scholars critical editions of what Mark Twain wrote as well as for general readers editions of his most important works. For example, the site already includes an electronic edition of Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume I.[95]

References[edit]

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