Dear Mark Twain
Letters from His Readers
Publication Date: April 2013
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A voracious pack-rat, Mark Twain hoarded his readers' letters as did few of his contemporaries. Dear Mark Twain collects 200 of these letters written by a diverse cross-section of correspondents from around the worldchildren, farmers, schoolteachers, businessmen, preachers, railroad clerks, inmates of mental institutions, con artists, and even a former president. It is a unique and groundbreaking bookthe first published collection of reader letters to any writer of Mark Twain's time. Its contents afford a rare and exhilarating glimpse into the sensibilities of nineteenth-century people while revealing the impact Samuel L. Clemens had on his readers. Clemens’s own and often startling comments and replies are also included.
R. Kent Rasmussen’s extensive research provides fascinating profiles of the correspondents, whose personal stories are often as interesting as their letters. Ranging from gushing fan appreciations and requests for help and advice to suggestions for writing projects and stinging criticisms, the letters are filled with perceptive insights, pathos, and unintentional but often riotous humor. Many are deeply moving, more than a few are hilarious, some may be shocking, but none are dull.
R. Kent Rasmussen is a prolific and widely respected scholar of Mark Twain. Among his books are Mark Twain A to Z, The Quotable Mark Twain, Bloom’s How to Write About Mark Twain and Critical Companion to Mark Twain. He is also the editor of the recently published Penguin Classics edition of Mark Twain’s Autobiographical Writings.
“Well-selected, thoroughly researched and thoughtfully annotated—a surprising, welcome addition to the apparently endless Twain shelf.”
“It is a special delight to read Twain’s interactions with the readers who made him 19th-century America’s most popular writer.”
“Kent Rasmussen has done it again: he has come up with a book that will give every Twainiac and lots of others with only a casual interest in Mark Twain much enjoyment and a non-trivial amount of insight into one of the most remarkable writers the world has ever known.”
-Shelley Fisher Fishkin
“A magnificent, remarkably researched book.”
"The content is diverse and intriguing. . . . Verdict: Rasmussen is clearly an expert curator and researcher. Fans of Twain and most libraries will want to secure a copy."