HISTORY OF THE MARK TWAIN LIBRARY

As Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) reached his seventh decade, his published writings focused increasingly on his life history. He even consented to have his biography written by the author Albert Bigelow Paine, who moved in with the recently-widowed Clemens to expedite the project.

Paine had a significant impact on Samuel Clemens' final years. In 1906, on Paine's recommendation, Clemens purchased a total of 240 acres in Redding, and arranged to have an Italianate mansion built. In June 1908, Clemens moved to the property, which he named Stormfield, and he lived there until his death in April 1910. His youngest daughter Jean, who became his close companion, was given a house on the northeast corner of the estate.

Within five months of moving to Redding, Clemens joined with his new neighbors to form the Mark Twain Library Association; a Mr. Adams donated the land where the Library now stands. Clemens enjoyed raising money for the Library, through such amusing stratagems as charging his houseguests to retrieve their luggage as well as supper dances and benefit concerts.

But it was only a day or two before his death that Samuel Clemens wrote the generous check permitting the construction of the first library building. The house and property given to his daughter Jean were sold after her tragic death (on Christmas Eve 1909 from a seizure). The $6000 proceeds from this sale was directed to the erection of the Jean L. Clemens Memorial Building. This building was opened in late 1910 and served the Redding community well for almost 60 years.

In 1972, the library quadrupled in size with the construction of a circular addition. And after the completion of a significant renovation project in 2000,the library has been able to offer updated technological resources in a newly-configured and expanded building.

Click here for additional details on the library's history.