Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume I by Harriet Elinor Smith - review by William H Pritchard

William H Pritchard

Diary Of A Somebody

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume I


University of California Press 736pp £24.95 order from our bookshop

Here is the first volume of Mark Twain’s autobiography, ‘complete, authoritative, and uncensored’, we are assured. To compile this first of three projected volumes, Harriet Elinor Smith and her assistants have gone through a ten-foot stack of files consisting of 5,000 manuscript papers containing half a million words from dictations Twain gave over a number of years. He died in 1910 with the notion that 100 years later, when he decreed that the autobiography should appear, he would be able to publish freely, at length and with full candour his thoughts about anything under the sun.

The book weighs in at five pounds. After an introduction, there are about 200 pages of ‘Preliminary Manuscripts and Dictations’, ranging from 1870 to 1905. There are 264 pages of autobiography, followed by explanatory notes that take up another 200 pages. Various appendices, notes on the text and

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