Back to Home Page

 

SAMUEL CLEMENS AND THE MARK TWAIN LIBRARY

Samuel Clemens, known to readers around the world as Mark Twain, moved to Redding in 1908, when the construction of his Italianate villa "Stormfield" was completed. After declining health slowed the hectic pace of his celebrity life, Clemens died in Redding in 1910. Stormfield burned down in 1923, but Clemens' most important legacy to Redding remains, in the Mark Twain Library Association that he founded shortly after he moved to town.

The present-day Library is fortunate to have more than his illustrious name to remember him by. Some 200 of the 3000 books he donated to start the library are still in its collection and many of Twain's donated books can be explored online thanks to the New York Times.

The library also has a number of artifacts once owned by Clemens, his family or his associates. The walls of the library display his wonderful quotes. The library has a select collection of books about his life and literary works as well. Some of these items circulate, while others can be viewed by appointment.

For those interested in learning more about the author, there are various academic archives, research institutions, and websites that have amassed significant amounts of information on the life and works of Samuel Clemens. The most important are listed below.

The Mark Twain Papers and Project

The Bancroft Library at University of California at Berkeley is the repository of many of Samuel Clemens' private papers. With the addition of photocopies and transcriptions from other institutions, the project has made it possible to read virtually every document in Twain's hand known to survive. The project is systematically publishing this material in print editions, and is beginning to make it available online. A complete index to 11,000 letters is accessible on the archive website now, and the archive is working to place its entire photographic holdings online.

Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies

Samuel Clemens spent a great deal of time in Elmira, New York. His wife was born there, he was married there and most of his children were born there. In addition, Clemens enjoyed almost 20 summers at his in-law's Quarry Farm in Elmira, where he worked on his most famous books. He, his wife, and his children are buried in Elmira's Woodlawn Cemetery.

Elmira College has built on these associations to become a center for research on Twain's literary legacy, promoting Twain scholarship through research grants and academic conferences. In recent years, it has also received a number of interesting collections of materials on Mark Twain's life.

The Mark Twain House and Museum

Samuel Clemens and his family lived in a 19-room mansion in the Nook Farm neighborhood of Hartford, Connecticut, for almost twenty years, until financial problems forced them to reduce expenses by embarking on a worldwide fundraising lecture tour. The house, just an hour's drive from Redding, has now been fully restored; a museum wing, holding almost 50,000 items relating to Mark Twain's life, was recently opened. The website allows a virtual tour of the distinctive house and access to some of the museum's collection for those who cannot make the trip.

Mark Twain Quotations, Newspaper Collections and Related Resources

This site has what it describes as an unequalled directory of Twain quotations, extensively indexed, and illustrated with rare Twain photographs. It also includes an outstanding collection of full-text articles from contemporary newspapers, including extensive selections of Twain's articles from his days as a reporter in California, hundreds of articles about Twain from the New York Times, and the text of many interviews.

Mark Twain in his times

A University of Virginia professor provides a fascinating insight into how Mark Twain's books were received at the time they were published.

Mark Twain Scrapbook

This site, excerpted from Ken Burns' acclaimed documentary on Mark Twain, provides an interactive look at Mark Twain through his writings and artifacts.

Mark Twain Forum (including "About Mark Twain")

This is the home of TWAIN-L, the listserv for the Mark Twain Forum, which promotes discussion among "persons having a scholarly interest in the life and times of Mark Twain"; archives of the listserv dating from 1992 can be accessed. The site also offers reviews of the many books that continue to be published about Mark Twain and provides links to some scholarly articles as well.

Of particular note is "About Mark Twain", which provides information appropriate for upper elementary and secondary school students. Included is a biography of Samuel Clemens and a timeline of his life, summaries of 16 of his books, descriptions of his friends and acquaintances, and so on.

The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for Humor

Since 1998, the Kennedy Center has awarded the Mark Twain Prize for Humor "to recognize those who create humor from their uniquely American experiences".

Mark Twain Stormfield Project 1908-2012

"Home-grown" historian Brent Colley has expanded his interest in Redding history to include a focus on Mark Twain's life here; periodically updated.

An Incident at Bryn Mawr

Evangeline Walker Andrews provides a fascinating perspective on the family life of Samuel Clemens in "An Incident". This true tale of her sophomore year at Bryn Mawr, when Ms. Andrews befriended  "Susy" Clemens, was donated to the Library by Andrews' granddaughter Eve Dillingham.

A History of Stormfield

The story of how our most famous resident came to town. From notes left by Margaret Mooney, former librarian, and Harold Mueller, former board president, of the Mark Twain Library.