Publication Date: May 29, 2012
An intimate look at Mark Twain that only he himself could offer
A must-have for all lovers of Mark Twain, this selection of his autobiographical writings opens a rare window onto the writer’s life, particularly his early years. Born on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri, Samuel Langhorne Clemens first used the pseudonym Mark Twain while a journalist in Nevada in 1863. When his first major book, The Innocents Abroad, appeared six years later, he began what would become one of the most celebrated and influential careers in American letters. Autobiographical Writings will help readers know the author intimately and appreciate why, a century after his death, he remains so vital and appealing.
Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri, in 1835, and died at Redding, Connecticut in 1910. In his person and in his pursuits he was a man of extraordinary contrasts. Although he left school at twelve when his father died, he was eventually awarded honorary degrees from Yale University, the University of Missouri, and Oxford University. His career encompassed such varied occupations as printer, Mississippi riverboat pilot, journalist, travel writer, and publisher. He made fortunes from his writing but toward the end of his life he had to resort to lecture tours to pay his debts. He was hot-tempered, profane, and sentimentaland also pessimistic, cynical, and tortured by self-doubt. His nostalgia helped produce some of his best books. He lives in American letters as a great artist, the writer whom William Dean Howells called “the Lincoln of our literature.”
“To [Clemens's] fascinating recollections Rasmussen contributes an informative Introduction that courageously takes up the issue of Samuel Clemens's veracity, a fuller-than-usual chronology of Clemens's life, an up-to-date bibliography of scholarship devoted to his autobiographical writings, and a surprisingly ample "Glossary" that identifies everyone and everything from Susan Crane to John Hay to the Monday Evening Club to the starboard side of a river vessel… a highly usable and deeply enjoyable compilation of some of Twain's very best prose.”
—Mark Twain Forum
“Rasmussen seems to have been born with the destiny of bringing order and light to Twain scholarship… So now he’s written yet another book that I would say ought to be near to hand for any scholar doing work on Sam Clemens, the biographical individual.”
—Lawrence Berkove, University of Michigan-Dearborn