Mark Twain Journal

Volume 56, Fall


Mark Twain Main Page




     Legacy Scholars

     Elmira Conference (Video)


     47-Quaker City



     50-Pen Name

     51-Charlie Webster

     52.1-Italian Villas



     53.2-Mississippi River

     54.1-MT Kills

     54.2-Mac Donnell

     55-Film Homage


     56.2-Legacy Directors

     57.1-Huckleberry Finn, The Musical

     57.2-Clemens's Signature



     Back Issues



All new format issues are available.

Use the shipping button first, so you don't forget to add one-time shipping costs ($15 for up to seven issues).

Variable Shipping Costs
Issues 47 to 54.1
Issues 54.2 to 57.2



To ship to a foreign address, please email Irene Wong at

Mark Twain and
Family Health in Nook Farm

K. Patrick Ober, MD


Clemens in 1880s


Apparitions of "miasma," "cholera," "fever," and
"small pox"


Contaminated Well


James Ahern


    Editor Alan Gribben's Note

Seldom has the Mark Twain Journal had the privilege of publishing in one issue so many major scholarly studies that break new ground. Terry Oggel edits a set of essays about Twain's designated biographer, Albert Bigelow Paine, that illuminate this influential but often-misunderstood figure. Most of these derived from a panel Oggel chaired in 2017 at the Eighth International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College where Oggel, Max McCoy, Mary Eden, Julie Ward, and Alan Gribben delivered papers. Kevin Mac Donnell adds an essay examining the versions of Paine's biography and other Twain biographies.

K. Patrick Ober, M.D., the reigning expert on the medical aspects of Clemens's life and writings, contributes a thought-provoking study of the shaky health of the occupants of the house in Nook Farm as well as then-current beliefs about illness that had a bearing on the family's healthcare assumptions.

Gary Scharnhorst becomes the eighth "Legacy Scholar" honored by the Mark Twain Journal for his lasting contributions to our field of study.

Decorative arts scholar and architectural historian Walter G. Ritchie, Jr. captures the elegance of the Jervis Langdon residence in Elmira, New York. The photographs of its sumptuous furniture and architectural features illustrate how lavishly they befitted a coal magnate.

Thomas J. Reigstad contributes an article about the friendship between Twain and an illustrator for the Buffalo Express, John Harrison Mills. Tara Penry explores Twain's connections with Robert B. Swain of San Francisco. Dwayne Eutsey has a note about Twain's membership in the Freemasons. George Henrick speculates about the Blankenships of Hannibal and their links with the literary character Huckleberry Finn. John H. Davis reads Twain's "Cannibalism in the Cars" (1868) as a metaphor for the Civil War and elucidates Twain's views of train travel. Neil Schmitz offers a note regarding Twain's non-participation in the Civil War. Matthew L. Lena finds the six degrees of separation between Phineas Gage and Mark Twain in an amusing journey that sought a connection. John Lockwood again consults the Library of Congress, this time to find real-life counterparts to desperadoes named in Twain's Roughing It. Alan Gribben reviews five recent books about Mark Twain.

Before ending this introduction the editor and publisher of the Mark Twain Journal would like to share with its readership two concerns he has been pondering. It has now been six years since I took over the editorship of Tom Tenney's journal. Its reliable publication schedule and illustrated format have attracted so many manuscripts that we are currently accepting only forty per cent of the submissions. However, the Journal faces a serious financial challenge owing to the rise of the gigantic Internet databases that all of us use. A number of these have been scooping up the Mark Twain Journal's contents with little or no compensation to the journal.

The result is that libraries are canceling their print subscriptions to the Mark Twain Journal (even though the subscriptions only cost libraries $35), since their patrons can obtain our articles through the Internet databases. This amounts to a major setback for our journal, because libraries have been its most reliable source of income. (Here I am reminded to ask that all of you check to be sure that the campus or public library you use has renewed its print subscription.)

As the enormity of this problem began to dawn on me, I started to contact the corporations to which these Internet databases belong. In two cases I had to enlist an attorney to get the corporations to respond to my letters of inquiry. With the attorney's help I was able to negotiate agreements that are fairer to our journal. We insisted in each case that the database embargo our issues for two years; this gives libraries an incentive to retain their print subscriptions. In other words, our contents will not be accessible on the Internet for twenty-four months, but during that period they will be available in print issues to individual subscribers and libraries.

I should mention, in detailing these facts, that one online database--JSTOR--has been a happy exception to what I have been explaining. JSTOR has proven to be, from the very outset, exemplary in the way it treats the journals on which it depends. That company readily complied with our two-year embargo stipulation and they also let us participate in a profit-sharing arrangement enabling journals to benefit from how often their articles are consulted.

Time will tell if our decline in library print subscriptions turns around as these contracts go into effect.

Under the fiscal pressure that we currently find ourselves it would be a favor to the editor and publisher if you would consider going to and renewing an individual inscription for $18. We need to batten down the hatches while we devise ways for the Journal to survive this corporate Internet threat.

One final matter. The Mark Twain Journal has had only three editors since its founding in 1936. The first two men continued to edit the periodical well into their eighties, and in both cases the Journal fell badly behind its publication schedule owing to the inevitable health problems associated with aging. (When I took over MTJ's operation in 2012 I had to begin with the 2009 issues.) I am not in my eighties yet, but I think it would be tempting fate for me to continue as editor for more than a few years. Please, then, help me by giving some thought to a promising successor or co-successors.

Editing this journal--promoting it, soliciting manuscripts, editing submissions, formatting the articles, arranging for illustrations and permissions, proofreading at multiple stages, overseeing its postal distribution, resolving delivery problems, registering new subscriptions, acknowledging canceled subscriptions, reminding subscribers to renew—has turned out to be far more labor-intensive than I ever imagined. I can understand how my two predecessors fell behind in their publication schedules once they began to experience health issues. If my resourceful spouse Irene Wong had not consented to become Managing Editor and take over a number of these chores I never could have produced the issues so regularly (or so handsomely). It might make sense for more than one person to accept the next editorship.

Please talk over this decision about an editorial transition with knowledgeable friends and share any suggestions with me that you have to offer. Irene and I invested $7,000 from our retirement funds to rehabilitate the journal in 2012, but now it is entirely solvent (in part because of assistance from the Mark Twain Foundation) and the next editor(s) will inherit a going concern. By then I anticipate that all of the Internet databases will be honoring our two-year embargo and will be making monetary reimbursements to the journal for the contents they are posting.

I am grateful to you for subscribing to and regularly reading the Mark Twain Journal: The Author and His Era.


Gary Scharnhorst
Legacy Scholar


Albert Bigelow Paine at
Markland, Redding, CT


Some furnishings from the Langdon Elmira Residence


Robert Bunker Swain
Twain's Friend and Reference


Phineas Gage: Inspiration for Twain's "Mean Men?"


Hannibal Blankenship Home?


Illustration for the
Buffalo Express


The desperado is held
in high regard.
Roughing It


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