Mark Twain Journal

Volume 57, Fall

Clemens's Signature




     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



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The Clemens Conference

Hannibal, Missouri, July 2019


In a session

Kerry Driscoll, Keynote Speaker, "Historicizing Injun Joe--A Look at Mark Twain's Most Infamous Character"

Transport to downtown Hannibal


In front of soon-to-be reconstructed Grant's Drug Store

Patty and John Pascal



    Editor's Note

The Mark Twain Journal initiated in its Spring 2014 issue a special series, "Legacy Scholars," to honor individuals on whose research into important aspects of Mark Twain's life and writings we regularly rely but too often take for granted. In this current Fall 2019 issue we honor Joe B. Fulton, who has published studies in varied sectors of Twain's thought and works and recently surveyed our entire field in Mark Twain Under Fire: Reception and Reputation, Criticism and Controversy, 1851-2015 (2018). (A list of past honorees appears on the back page of each issue of the Mark Twain Journal.)

A perennial, or should one say recurrent, debate within Mark Twain studies concerns the origins of his famous pen name. The ultimate cause for this disagreement lies partly in the untruthful explanations he came up with during his lifetime, which left the door open for optional theories. Every now and then a prominent scholar attempts to put the matter to rest once and for all, as Guy Cardwell did in his authoritative essay, "Samuel Clemens' Magical Pseudonym," New England Quarterly 48.2 (June 1975): 175-193, yet nonetheless the same or related disagreements spring up again every decade or two. Carolyn Grattan Eichin's "From Samuel Clemens to Mark Twain: Sanitizing the Western Experience," Mark Twain Annual 12 (2014): 113-135 articulated one of the two currently leading ideas. An entirely different source was proposed by Kevin Mac Donnell--a Legacy Scholar and Collector--in two articles in the Mark Twain Journal, the most recent one published in the Spring 2019 issue.

Now another Legacy Scholar, a prominent biographer, editor, and commentator praised in our Spring 2018 issue, Gary Scharnhorst, contributes a rejoinder to Mac Donnell and defends an interpretation he employed in the first volume of his magisterial three-volume biography, The Life of Mark Twain (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2018). Although one might wish that highly respected Twain scholars could see eye-to-eye on crucial matters, the Mark Twain Journal does seem like an appropriate venue in which to air this dispute, which is, after all, hardly a trivial concern. Indeed, it cuts to the very heart of Twain's public and professional identity and throws open to question the origin of one the most famous names associated with American literature and culture.

The editor and managing editor of the Mark Twain Journal attended the Third Clemens Conference in Hannibal this past summer, and came home with a clutch of promised articles deriving from the excellent papers they heard. Ryo Waguri explains the painstaking process he practiced in translating into Japanese the Mark Twain Project's edition of Twain's Autobiography. John H. Davis introduces a more nuanced approach to reading and teaching frame-narrated fictions. Kevin Mac Donnell examines the subtleties of Twain's bewitching oral performances. Melissa Scholes Young analyzes the significance of a usually neglected character in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Becky Thatcher. As the Hannibal conference was winding down, Cindy Lovell began showing some of the attendees a signature, "Clemens," that she had just found (after many years of searching) scratched into the wall of the Mark Twain cave. She granted the Mark Twain Journal an exclusive account of how this discovery occurred and what it suggests.

The Spring 2019 issue of the Mark Twain Journal included a new department, "Stormfield Scholars," in which two people-- Walter Blair and Lawrence I. Berkove--were posthumously honored for their enduring work that enhanced the stature of our field of studies. In this Fall issue Joe B. Fulton adds another name to that illustrious category, Franklin Meine.

With regret the editor must report that the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College has decided to start an online scholarly journal, and so, to avoid confusion, the Mark Twain Journal agreed to look for another institutional address. In the interim our mailing address will become Mark Twain Journal, P. O. Box 242566, Montgomery, AL 36124. We are grateful to the Center for Mark Twain Studies and to its former director, Dr. Barbara Snedecor, for the decade of welcome we received there. We wish the Center the best of luck with its beneficial activities and thank its directors for many favors.


Joe B. Fulton, Legacy Scholar


First cell phone photograph of Clemens's signature in Mark Twain's Cave. See Cindy Lovell's exclusive story in this issue.


Before Hal Holbrook, there was Dr. J. Jay Villers in the 19th century. See Kevin Mac Donnell's "The Voice of Mark Twain"

Books Received


Laura De Marco's illustrated travel narrative of Twain's life includes over 200 photographs. This is a perfect present for any Mark Twain aficionado.


Melissa Scholes Young's novel takes place in Hannibal where Laura Brooks reconnects with her family and friends and reflects on the events that have shaped her life. Mark Twain's presence is ubiquitous in the novel.



The Clemens Conference


Cruise on the Mississippi River


The Mississippi River near Hannibal

Mark Twain's Oxford gown and white suit coat are on exhibit in the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum