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Volume 58, Spring

Mark Twain in Redding, Connecticut

 

 

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     Legacy Scholars

     Elmira Conference (Video)

     Feature


     47-Quaker City

     48-Hannibal

     49-Profanity

     50-Pen Name

     51-Charlie Webster

     52.1-Italian Villas

     52.2-Tesla

     53.1-Sweetheart

     53.2-Mississippi River

     54.1-MT Kills

     54.2-Mac Donnell

     55-Film Homage

     56.1-Paine

     56.2-Legacy Directors

     57.1-Huckleberry Finn, The Musical

     57.2-Clemens's Signature


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Mark Twain Library, Redding, CT

Twain's founded a library for his new neighbors with donations from his own books and seed money of $6000 in 1910. Renovations beginning in 1972 expanded the size and services of the library.

 


The staff of The Mark Twain Library and the dedication of its volunteers have kept the library open since 1908.

 

The original library was in an unused chapel.

The Jean L. Clemens Memorial Building was incorporated into the renovation in 1972.

 

Director Beth Dominianni and the remaining books Twain and Clara donated to the library.


 

    Editor's Note

Dear Subscribers,

Due to the coronavirus events and a resulting slowdown in mail delivery, we have heard from subscribers, mostly on the East and West coasts, that they have not yet received their issues. I have assurance from the printer that they were shipped by First Class Mail on April 14. I hope that by next week all of you will have received your Spring 2020 issues.

Readers tend to shy away from the final years of Samuel Clemens's life, presuming them to be gloomy and devoid of any creative satisfaction. That logical expectation stems from the deaths, during Clemens's last decade, of his beloved wife and one of his two remaining daughters. However, in an Italianate home built especially to his taste in the hilly woods of Redding, Connecticut, Clemens achieved a rewarding measure of peace and contentment. In that tranquil setting he was able to resume his writing, socialize with flocks of visiting friends, and conceive a lasting benefit for his new neighbors.

This Spring issue of the Mark Twain Journal examines that Redding period, including his effort to devise a legal will that would withstand the tests of time, his determination to found a community library with books and funds he would donate, and his (largely successful) resolve to leave behind a literary image highlighting the autobiographical aspects of his writings.

JOE B. FULTON contributes another name to the Stormfield Scholars series the Mark Twain Journal commenced in its Spring 2019 issue to recognize individuals no longer living who made significant contributions to our knowledge of Twain, his family, his associates, and his literary works. Archibald Henderson encountered Twain in 1907 and thereafter became an increasingly important factor in his life and his posthumous reputation. As Fulton helpfully reminds us, Henderson tangibly augmented Albert Bigelow Paine's impressions of Twain's personality and writings.

HENRY S. COHN and ADAM TARR have studied in detail the provisions of the legal will that Clemens drew up at Stormfield and they also reveal the twisting and tweaking this legal document underwent as Clemens's only surviving daughter gave birth to a daughter, lived in Detroit, became a widow, moved to Hollywood, and married a second husband. What Cohn and Tarr reveal is enough to make one wonder if any celebrity or any attorney, however astute, can ever adequately peer into the future.

SUSAN B. DURKEE, a noted Redding artist and knowledgeable local historian, shares with the Mark Twain Journal her "Mark Twain Trail," a guide she made for visitors interested in the sites associated with Twain's residency in Redding.

From its archives the Mark Twain Journal reprints an updated and revised version of KEVIN MAC DONNELL'S virtual tour of Stormfield, a still-much-requested item that took up the entire Spring/Fall (44.1-2) issue in 2006. No one else has ever looked at the structure and its furnishings in such discerning detail.

A painful chapter in Clemens's biography was the ruptured friendship with his private secretary Isabel V. Lyon and the dismissal of his financial advisor Ralph Ashcroft. In 2011 CHARLES L. CROW wrote a review-essay about two biographies of Clemens that reached differing interpretations of this cataclysmic event which shook the Stormfield household. The Mark Twain Journal reprints an excerpt from Crow's excellent appraisal as a starting-point for those trying to understand Clemens's furious belief that his trust had been betrayed.

The current Director of the Mark Twain Library at Redding, BETH DOMINIANNI, and JENNIFER WASTROM, a trustee and former president of the Mark Twain Library Association, have sketched out (for the first time in print) a history of the splendid library that Clemens endowed.

The issue of where and how Mark Twain received the inspiration for his famous pen name may never be resolved to everyone's satisfaction, but KEVIN MAC DONNELL responds to GARY SCHARNHORST'S "Mark Twain's Nom de Plume Redux: A Reply to Kevin Mac Donnell" (Fall 2019). The Mark Twain Journal feels privileged to serve as a host venue for this stimulating and important debate about the origins of a name beloved to millions of readers.


 

Mark Twain in Redding, CT
Autochrome by Alvin Coburn, 1908


 

Charles T. Lark was Twain's attorney.


 

Clara Clemens Samossoud, Twain's surviving daughter, determined the direction of his estate, 1944.


 

Archibald Henderson met Twain on a trip to England and they became friends. He visited Twain at Stormfield in 1908. L to R: Archibald Henderson, Ralph Ashcroft, Isabel Lyon, Twain

 

Susan Durkee's "Mark Twain Trail" includes the home of Dan Beard, Twain's close friend and illustrator for Twain's books.

Visit susandurkee.com to see her portraits of Twain.

 

 

 

Twain at Stormfield with Angelfish

 

Twain having fun with photographer Alvin Coburn and Archibald Henderson. Photo by Isabel Lyon, 1908

At the Lobster Pot: Archibald Henderson, Isabel Lyon, Ossip Gabrilowitsch, and Ralph Ashcroft, 1908



 

Examples of incipits--at the center of a debate about Twain's response to a letter from a "Miss Cohen" and his nom de plume.

In this issue, Kevin Mac Donnell proposes a different interpretation of the Cohen letter than the one expressed in the Fall 2019 issue of the Mark Twain Journal.