1. As a baby, he wasn’t expected to live.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born two months prematurely on November 30, 1835, in tiny Florida, Missouri, and remained sickly and frail until he was 7 years old. Clemens was the sixth of seven children, only three of whom survived to adulthood. In 1839, Clemens’ father, John Marshall, a self-educated lawyer who ran a general store, moved his family to the town of Hannibal, Missouri, in search of better business opportunities. (Decades later, his son would set his popular novels “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” in a fictionalized version of Hannibal.) John Marshall Clemens became a justice of the peace in Hannibal but struggled financially. When Samuel Clemens was 11, his 49-year-old father died of pneumonia.
2. Twain’s formal education was limited.
In 1848, the year after his father’s death, Clemens went to work full-time as an apprentice printer at a newspaper in Hannibal. In 1851, he moved over to a typesetting job at a local paper owned by his older brother, Orion, and eventually penned a handful of short, satirical items for the publication. In 1853, 17-year-old Clemens left Hannibal and spent the next several years living in places such as New York City, Philadelphia and Keokuk, Iowa, and working as a printer.
3. His career as a riverboat pilot was marred by tragedy.
In 1857, Clemens became an apprentice steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River. The following year, while employed on a boat called the Pennsylvania, he got his younger brother, Henry, a job aboard the vessel. Samuel Clemens worked on the Pennsylvania until early June. Then, on June 13, disaster struck when the Pennsylvania, traveling near Memphis, experienced a deadly boiler explosion; among those who perished as a result was 19-year-old Henry. Samuel Clemens was devastated by the incident but got his pilot’s license in 1859. He worked on steamboats until the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, when commercial traffic along the Mississippi was halted. Clemens’ pen name, Mark Twain, comes from a term signifying two fathoms (12 feet), a safe depth of water for steamboats.
4. Twain briefly served with a Confederate militia.
In June 1861, shortly after the Civil War began, 25-year-old Clemens joined the Marion Rangers, a pro-Confederate militia. Although his family had owned a slave when he was a boy, Clemens didn’t have strong ideological convictions about the war and probably enlisted with the militia primarily out of loyalty to his Southern roots. His time with the group turned out to be brief: After two weeks of conducting drills, the poorly supplied Marion Rangers disbanded upon hearing a rumor that a Union force—led by Ulysses Grant, as Clemens eventually learned—was headed their way. The following month, Clemens left Missouri and the war behind and journeyed west with his brother Orion, who had been named the territorial secretary of Nevada. Once there, Clemens tried his hand at silver mining and then, after failing to strike it rich, took a job as a reporter with a Virginia City, Nevada, newspaper in the fall of 1862. The following February, he used the pen name Mark Twain for the first time. Prior to that, he had tried out other pseudonyms, including W. Epaminondas Adrastus Blab and Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass.
As it happened, later in life Clemens became friends with Ulysses Grant, and in 1885 published the former president’s memoir, which became a best-seller and rescued Grant’s widow from poverty after her husband lost most of their money to bad investments.
5. He struck literary gold in California.
In May 1864, Twain challenged a rival Nevada newspaperman with whom he was feuding to a duel but fled before an actual fight took place, supposedly to avoid being arrested for violating the territory’s anti-dueling law. Twain headed to San Francisco, where he got a job as a reporter but soon grew disenchanted with the work and eventually was fired. Later that year, Twain posted bail for a friend who’d been arrested in a barroom brawl. When the friend skipped town, Twain, who didn’t have the funds to cover the bond, decided he too should get out of San Francisco for a while and traveled to the mining cabin of friends at Jackass Hill in Tuolumne County, California (the Jackass Hill area was booming during the 1849 gold rush, but when Twain visited just a small number of miners remained). While at a bar in the nearby town of Angels Camp in Calaveras County, California, Twain heard a man tell a tale about a jumping frog contest. When Twain returned to San Francisco in February 1865, he received a letter from a writer friend in New York asking him to contribute a story to a book he was putting together. Twain decided to send a story based on the jumping frog tale he’d heard; however, by the time he got around to finalizing it the book had already been published. As it happened, though, the book’s publisher sent Twain’s piece, “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” to the Saturday Press in New York, which ran it on November 18, 1865. The humorous story turned out to be a big hit with readers and was reprinted across the country, eventually retitled “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”
6. Twain based Huckleberry Finn on a real person.
Set in the antebellum South, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is the story of the title character, a young misfit who floats down the Mississippi River on a raft with Jim, a runaway slave. Huck Finn made his literary debut in Twain’s 1876 novel “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” appearing as Sawyer’s sidekick. The model for Huck Finn was Tom Blankenship, a boy four years older than Twain who he knew growing up in Hannibal. Blankenship’s family was poor and his father, a laborer, had a reputation as a town drunk. As Twain noted in his autobiography: “In Huckleberry Finn I have drawn Tom Blankenship exactly as he was. He was ignorant, unwashed, insufficiently fed; but he had as good a heart as ever any boy had.” It’s unknown what happened to Blankenship later in life. Twain indicated he’d heard a rumor Blankenship became a justice of the peace in Montana, but other reports suggest he was jailed for theft or died of cholera.
What is certain is that from the time of its publication, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” has been controversial. Just a month after its American release in 1885, it was banned by the public library in Concord, Massachusetts, for its supposedly coarse language and low moral tone. In the mid-20th century, critics began condemning the book as racist and in the ensuing decades it was removed from some school reading lists. Many scholars, however, contend the book is a criticism of racism.
7. He was a bad businessman.
After becoming a successful writer, Twain sank money into a number of bad investments and eventually went bankrupt. One investing debacle, involving an automatic typesetting machine, cost him nearly $200,000 by some estimates, an enormous sum considering that in 1890 the majority of American families earned less than $1,200 per year. Conversely, when offered the chance to invest in a new invention, the telephone, Twain reportedly turned down its creator, Alexander Graham Bell. Twain himself invented a variety of products, including a self-pasting scrapbook, which sold well, and an elastic strap for pants, which didn’t.
In 1891, Twain closed up his 25-room Hartford home, where he had lived since 1874, and relocated with his family to Europe in order to live more cheaply (he also hoped the change of scenery would help his wife, who was in poor health). Nevertheless, in 1894, following the failure of the publishing company he had founded a decade earlier, Twain declared bankruptcy. The next year, he embarked on an around-the-world speaking tour in order to earn money to pay off his debts, which he was able to do within several years.
8. Twain has no living direct descendants.
In 1870, Clemens married Olivia Langdon, who was raised in an abolitionist family in Elmira, New York. The couple was introduced by Olivia’s younger brother, who had met Clemens during a voyage to Europe and the Holy Land aboard the steamship Quaker City in 1867. (Clemens wrote about this excursion in his best-selling 1869 travel book, “The Innocents Abroad.”) The Clemenses had four children, including a son who died as a toddler and two daughters who passed away in their 20s. Olivia Clemens died in 1904 at age 58, while on April 21, 1910, her renowned husband, whose health had been in decline for a number of months, died at age 74 at his home in Redding, Connecticut. Their surviving child, Clara, died in 1962 at age 88. Clara Clemens had one child, Nina Gabrilowitsch, who passed away in 1966. Gabrilowitsch was childless, so there are no direct descendants of Samuel Clemens alive today.
8 Things You May Not Know About Mark Twain - HISTORY
Samuel Clemens — nom de plume Mark Twain — was a font of quotable sayings, covering everything from the afterlife to adventure. His quotes are often funny, regularly sarcastic, and sometimes inspiring.
Though best known for his humor, Twain’s quips have been known to move people to action, to push them forward on an enlightening course. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness,” wrote Twain, adding with typical curmudgeonly wit, “and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.
Over a century after his death, the author remains one of the most widely quoted people. His maxims proliferate, pulled from everywhere: his books, his speeches, his autobiography, and interviews with newspapers and magazines. And sometimes, they’re even pulled from other people.
In fact, the beloved Huckleberry Finn scribe is one of the most misquoted folks in American history, with purported Twain-isms disputed and fact-checked on a regular basis. The 13 quotes below are not Twain’s, but they’re attributed to him so often that the origin gets muddied. Here, we give credit where credit is due — something that Twain himself, a one-time journalist and constant truth-teller, would likely have appreciated.
If you ever come across a Mark Twain quote that you suspect might not be accurate, look it up on the website Twain Quotes. The database was compiled by Barbara Schmidt, a 2017 Mark Twain Journal Legacy Scholar and author at the Center for Mark Twain Studies. Because, as Mark Twain didn’t actually say (though the anonymous quote is often attributed to him), “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.”
What Mark Twain did say: “Cold! If the thermometer had been an inch longer we’d all have frozen to death.”
Twain himself denied inventing this quote, and claimed Benjamin Disraeli was the one who created it (though that is likely incorrect, too). It is thanks to Twain, however, that the saying became popular in the U.S.
What Mark Twain did say: “Yes, even I am dishonest. Not in many ways, but in some. Forty-one, I think it is.”
Interesting Facts About Mark Twain
Happy 185th birthday, Mark Twain! This famously witty writer was born on November 30, 1835. Here are 10 curious facts about his life.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain, provided us with endless entertainment through numerous novels, nonfiction books, short stories, and essays—all despite having ended formal schooling after the fifth grade.
10 Curious Facts About Mark Twain
When Was Mark Twain Born?
Baby Clemens arrived prematurely in a two-room shack in Florida, Missouri, on November 30th, 1835. He was a frail infant and sickly child, prompting his mother to admit, “When I first saw him, I could see no promise in him.”
Mark Twain’s Many Cats
The Clemens family had 19 cats at one time during Twain’s childhood. Over the years he gave his cats inventive names such as Bambino, Famine, Pestilence, Satan, Sin, Sour Mash, and Stray Kit.
What Is Mark Twain’s Real Name?
Sam Clemens tried out several pseudonyms, including Rambler, W. Epaminondas Adrastus Blab, and Josh, before settling on Mark Twain (meaning “the second mark”—a phrase used by Mississippi River steamboat crews to measure water depth, specifically the depth of two fathoms).
Mark Twain’s Typewriter
In 1874, the author spotted one of the first typewriters, a Remington, in a Boston store window. Although it could only type capital letters and he had to operate the carriage return with a foot pedal, he bought it for $125. Twain also claimed to be the first person in New England to have had a telephone for private use.
How Tall Was Mark Twain?
This literary giant stood 5 feet 8 ½ inches tall and was so well known that he once received a letter addressed “Mark Twain, God Knows Where.”
Mark Twain in New Hampshire
In 1905, he spent the first of two summers in Dublin, New Hampshire (home of The Old Farmer’s Almanac). There he wrote (but never finished) a book called Three Thousand Years Among the Microbes. To keep him company, he rented three kittens from a local farm. While lecturing at the Dublin Lake Club, he noticed that an audience member was knitting a pair of socks while he spoke. Infuriated, Twain declared that he had never played second fiddle to a sock and left the room. The following year, he returned to the Lake Club and spoke for over 2 hours on various topics. He received a standing ovation.
Mark Twain’s Clothing
Twain made headlines in 1907 by walking from his London hotel to a public bath across the street attired in his blue bathrobe and slippers. Back in America, he often wore scarlet socks and all-white suits, which he called his “don’tcareadam suits.”
Mark Twain’s Leisurely Habits
Twain loved to write in bed, and reporters chatted with him there more than once. He said, “I have never taken any exercise, except for eating and resting, and I never intend to take any.”
Mark Twain’s Memory
He once observed: “When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it happened or not but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so that I can not remember any but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this, but we all have to do it.”
When Did Mark Twain Die?
He was born and died when a comet passed, once noting: “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year , and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t.” He got his wish. He died on April 21, 1910, just two days after Halley’s Comet had reached its point closest to the Sun.
10 Quotes by Mark Twain
Which of these many humorous quotes is your favorite?
“Providence protects children and idiots. I know because I have tested it.”
“Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”
“I think that I may say that an American has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi Gras in New Orleans.”
“Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.”
“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.”
“It used to be a good hotel, but that proves nothing. I used to be a good boy, for that matter.”
“Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”
“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”
What Mark Twain did say: “A successful book is not made of what is in it, but of what is left out of it.”
What Mark Twain did say: “I reverently believe that the Maker who made us all makes everything in New England but the weather. I don't know who makes that, but I think it must be raw apprentices in the weather-clerk's factory who experiment and learn how, in New England, for board and clothes, and then are promoted to make weather for countries that require a good article, and will take their custom elsewhere if they don't get it.”
4. It took Mark Twain seven years to write The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Twain started writing the sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in 1876, but he wasn’t too pleased with his progress. After writing about 400 pages, he told a friend he liked it "only tolerably well, as far as I have got, and may possibly pigeonhole or burn" the manuscript. He put the project on the back burner for several years and finally finished it in 1883 following a burst of inspiration.
6. The Haunting Love of Laura Wright
Wright (left) and Twain at age 22.
“I put my arm around her waist and drew her close to me, for I loved her…” wrote Twain about his first and most haunting love, Laura Wright. Their first meeting was nothing short of cinematic, with Twain catching a quick glimpse of an anonymous girl on a steamboat adjacent to his. “F loating upon my enchanted vision, came that slip of a girl…” he wrote.
The two eventually found each other again, and kept up an intimate correspondence despite never marrying. In 1912, Twain published My Platonic Sweetheart, a semi-autobiographic “dream narrative” tracing the love story of characters named George and Alice. For the rest of his life, said Twain, Wright haunted his dreams and directed his writing.
Historian’s are still trying to understand the nature of Twain’s relationship with Wright, and many an eyebrow has been raised in light of their age difference Twain was 22 upon meeting Wright, who was only 14 and asked her descendants to destroy her correspondence with Twain upon her death. Which brings us to our final mystery…
It Ain’t What You Don’t Know That Gets You Into Trouble. It’s What You Know for Sure That Just Ain’t So
Dear Quote Investigator: The Oscar-winning 2015 film “The Big Short” begins with a display of the following statement:
It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.
The brilliant humorist Mark Twain receives credit, but I have been unable to find a solid citation. This quip is very popular. Would you please investigate?
Quote Investigator: Scholars at the Center for Mark Twain Studies of Elmira College have found no substantive evidence supporting the ascription to Mark Twain. 1
The observation has been attributed to several other prominent humorists including: Josh Billings (pseudonym of Henry Wheeler Shaw), Artemus Ward (pseudonym of Charles Farrar Browne), Kin Hubbard (pen name of Frank McKinney Hubbard), and Will Rogers. Yet, it is unlikely then any of them said it. The creator remains anonymous based on current evidence.
The saying is difficult to trace because it falls within an evolving family of remarks concerning faulty knowledge and memory. Three processes operate on members of the family to generate new members and ascriptions incrementally:
- Statements are rephrased over time.
- Statements are hybridized together to produce new statements.
- Attributions are shifted from one prominent humorist to another.
The family contains some comments with genuine ascriptions. For example, in 1874 a compendium of wit and humor from Josh Billings was published. The work employed dialectal spelling which causes headaches for modern researchers who are attempting to find matches using standard spelling. The following pertinent item appeared in a section labeled “Affurisms”, i.e., “Aphorisms”. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 2
I honestly beleave it iz better tew know nothing than two know what ain’t so.
Here is the statement written with standard spelling:
I honestly believe it is better to know nothing than to know what ain’t so.
This remark partially matched the saying under investigation, and it acted as a seed in the evolving family of remarks.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
Billings died in 1885, and in 1899 a religious orator whose words were recorded in the pages of “The Pacific Unitarian” reassigned a rephrased version of the saying from Billings to Twain: 3
Perhaps, as Mark Twain observed, it is better not to know so much than to know so many things that aren’t so.
In 1900 “The Dietetic and Hygienic Gazette” printed a statement attributed to Billings with quotation marks surrounding only a segment. The full statement included the key word “trouble” which occurs in the target saying: 4
Upon reading the first item we are forcibly reminded of the pertinent and pithy remark of the lamented humorist, Josh Billings, that the trouble with a great many of us is “we know so many things that ain’t so.“
In 1909 an advertisement within a book called “A Drum’s Story” ascribed a remark to Twain about old men and memory that contained the key word “trouble”: 5
Mark Twain once said that “the trouble with old men is they remember so many things that ain’t so,” but this book of war reminiscences is different from most of Twain’s reminiscences.
In 1911 the well-known author G. K. Chesterton implausibly ascribed to humorist Artemus Ward who died in 1867 a statement that partially matched the target: 6
One of the two or three wisest sayings uttered on this ancient earth was the remark of Artemus Ward, “It ain’t so much men’s ignorance that does the harm as their knowing so many things that ain’t so.”
Twain died in 1910, and his friend Albert Bigelow Paine published a multi-volume biography of the luminary in 1912. Paine presented two quotations from Twain that partially matched the saying being explored: 7
“When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or not but I am getting old, and soon I shall remember only the latter.”
At another time he paraphrased one of Josh Billings’s sayings in the remark: “It isn’t so astonishing, the number of things that I can remember, as the number of things I can remember that aren’t so.”
In 1913 “The Atlantic Monthly” credited Billings with the same statement that Chesterton ascribed to Artemus Ward in 1911: 8
One of the wisest sayings uttered on this ancient earth was Josh Billings’s remark, ‘It ain’t so much men’s ignorance that does the harm as their knowing so many things that ain’t so.’
In 1915 “The Catholic World” attributed a similar statement to Billings: 9
. . . “It is not so much the ignorance of mankind,” Josh Billings said, “that makes them ridiculous, as the knowing so many things that ain’t so.”
In 1917 a military book titled “The Unwritten History of Braddock’s Field” included a chapter by George H. Lamb that credited Twain with a partial match containing the word “trouble”: 10
Members of the committee were reminded of Mark Twain’s dictum, that the trouble with reminiscences is not that people know too much, but that they know so many things that aren’t so.
In April 1917 “The Lyceum Magazine” printed another expression attributed to Twain about “old men” which contained the key word “trouble: 11
Mark Twain used to say that “the trouble with old men’s memories is that they remember so many things that ain’t so.” Since I heard him say that several times I have been careful not to state anything unusual lest my friends should think that Mark Twain’s arraignment is true in my case.
In 1921 a piece in “The Country Gentleman” printed a saying ascribed to Billings: 12
It ain’t so much people’s ignorance that does the harm as their knowing so darned much that ain’t so.—JOSH BILLINGS.
In 1923 B. C. Forbes founder of “Forbes” magazine wrote about a speech delivered by Francis H. Sisson, vice-president of the Guaranty Trust Company of New York: 13
Last evening Mr. Sisson talked to a large gathering of Iowa editors. His theme was the oft-quoted observation of Josh Billings that “the trouble with the American people is not so much their ignorance as the tremendous number of things they know that ain’t so.”
In 1931 the “Ithaca Journal-News” of Ithaca, New York printed an expression attributed to Billings that was semantically close to the target saying: 14
It ain’t what a man don’t know-that makes him a fool it’s the awful sight of things he knows’ that ain’t so. Josh Billings said something of that sort, and Josh Billings knew what he was talking about.
In 1947 the “Janesville Daily Gazette” printed a close syntactic and semantic match ascribed to Twain: 15
It ain’t so much the things that people don’t know that makes trouble in this world, as it is the things that people know that ain’t so. — Mark Twain.
In 1958 the character Abe Martin received credit for a saying within this family. Cartoonist Kin Hubbard was the creator of Abe Martin: 16
Abe Martin’s definition of ignorance was “not so much what a person don’t know, as what he knows that ain’t so.” And he is certainly correct.
In June 1964 the “Boston Traveler” of Boston, Massachusetts credited Artemus Ward with a strong syntactic and semantic match: 17
Or, as Artemus Ward put it, “it ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that ain’t so.”
In November 1964 Ronald Reagan who later became the U.S. President delivered a speech on television that contained a pertinent instance without attribution: 18
Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn’t so!
In 1977 “Peter’s Quotations: Ideas for Our Time” by Laurence J. Peter credited Kin Hubbard with a version of the saying: 19
‘Tain’t what a man don’t know that hurts him it’s what he knows that just ain’t so.
—Frank McKinney Hubbard (“Kin Hubbard”)
In 1978 “New York Magazine” printed an instance together with an unlikely ascription to funny man Will Rogers: 20
The trouble with most people, as Will Rogers observed, is not that they don’t know much but that they know so much that isn’t true.
In 1983 former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale employed the saying while criticizing President Ronald Reagan. Mondale credited the words to Will Rogers: 21
“I keep quoting Will Rogers as saying of (former President Herbert) Hoover that it’s not what he doesn’t know that bothers me, it’s what he knows for sure that just ain’t so,” Mondale said.
In 2006 the Oscar-winning documentary about climate change titled “An Inconvenient Truth” displayed an instance of the saying and credited Mark Twain: 22
What gets us into trouble
is not what we don’t know
It’s what we know for sure
that just ain’t so
– Mark Twain
In conclusion, the target saying evolved incrementally over time. Instances have been attributed to a variety of humorists such as Mark Twain, Josh Billings, Artemus Ward, Kin Hubbard, and Will Rogers. However, there is no substantive evidence that the saying was crafted but one of these funny men. The ascription remains anonymous.
The 1874 quotation from Josh Billings: “I honestly beleave it iz better tew know nothing than two know what ain’t so” is further explored on this webpage.
The quotation from Mark Twain: “When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or not but I am getting old, and soon I shall remember only the latter” is further explored on this webpage.
Image Notes: Public domain picture of Josh Billings (Henry Wheeler Shaw) from the Harvard Theatre Collection. Public domain picture of Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) by Abdullah Frères circa 1867 from the Library of Congress. Public domain picture of Artemus Ward (Charles Farrar Brown) from the Harvard Theatre Collection. Images accessed via Wikimedia Commons. Images have been resized, retouched, and cropped.
(Great thanks to Tom Beeler, Stephen Dorfman, Francis Neelon, Marcos Tatijewski, Simon Lancaster, Dick Plotz, Lane Greene, and George Dinwiddie whose inquiries led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration. Special thanks to fellow researchers Matt Seybold, Suzy Platt, Ralph Keyes, Fred R. Shapiro, Nigel Rees, and Barry Popik who have explored quotations in this family. Additional thanks to Lane Greene who pointed to the 1964 statement of Ronald Reagan and Dick Plotz who pointed to Walter Mondale’s 1983 statement.)
Update History: On November 23, 2018 the November 1964 and the June 1983 citations were added.
3 Orion Clemens&rsquos Shocking Lost Autobiography
Orion Clemens was Mark Twain&rsquos older and unsuccessful brother. While Mark Twain got his start writing for his brother&rsquos newspaper, it sadly went under after Twain left for greener pastures. Orion toyed with law and politics, but both left him destitute and relying on Twain for money. The Clemens family was even once offered a huge sum for land they owned in Tennessee. The money Orion and Twain could have brought in would have made them both rich, but Orion, a staunch Christian, refused on the ground that it would be used for wine production. Sadly, even his religion ended in misery. He was excommunicated from his church after a lecture on his views about the Old Testament.
Since he failed in almost everything he undertook, it prompted Twain to propose he write something called The Autobiography of a Failure. Twain told Orion to write it absolutely truthfully, as if there was no audience, revealing all his sins and failings.
Surprisingly, Orion did exactly what Twain wanted. But he did too fine a job. Aside from publicly humiliating Orion, it could have even embarrassed the entire Clemens family after it exposed the detail of their father&rsquos autopsy possibly by suggesting he was an adulterer. After reading it, Twain&rsquos editors were too shocked to publish it. Even Twain himself, at one point the owner of his own publishing company, didn&rsquot publish the piece despite having once praised it. The manuscript was eventually lost by Twain&rsquos first biographers, probably on purpose.
8 Things You May Not Know About Mark Twain - HISTORY
In 1973 the University of California Press published the Iowa-California edition of What Is Man? And Other Philosophical Writings edited by Paul Baender. The Iowa-California editions focused on providing scholarly and authoritative texts of Mark Twain's previously published works. However, Frederick Anderson, editor of the Mark Twain Papers, consented to the inclusion of a previously unpublished letter from Mark Twain to the editor of Harper's Weekly titled "Things a Scotsman Wants to Know," (pp. 398-400). Anderson and Baender felt the letter was closely tied in content and date of composition to a series of letters collected and first published in Letters from the Earth (1962) which were also included in the Iowa-California volume. Baender provided only minimal background information on "Things a Scotsman Wants to Know" dated August 31  and signed with a pseudonym "Beruth A. W. Kennedy." Baender noted that the letter was a reply to a previous inquiry in Harper's Weekly regarding theological questions which had been published a few weeks earlier.
According to biographer Albert Bigelow Paine, Mark Twain wrote very little for publication in 1909, but he did enjoy writing for his own amusement, "setting down the things that boiled, or bubbled, within him mainly chapters on the inconsistencies of human deportment, human superstition and human creeds" (Paine, Letters, p. 833). Paine, in a very diplomatic manner, was referring to Mark Twain's diatribes against God and organized religion. Paine recalls, "One fancy which he followed in several forms (some of them not within the privilege of print) was that of an inquisitive little girl, Bessie, who pursues her mother with difficult questionings" (Paine, Bio. p. 1515). Mark Twain began the "Little Bessie" theological dialogues in February 1908 and continued reading and working with them in 1909 while he read them aloud to Paine.
"Things a Scotsman Wants to Know" was written at the end of August 1909. The polemic "Letters from the Earth," a collection of letters from Satan commenting on mankind, was written a few months later in October and November 1909. The same type of writing paper was used for both manuscripts. Passages from "Things a Scotsman Wants to Know" reverberate in "Letters from the Earth."
Summer 1909 - Religious Controversies
In order to comprehend the full story behind "Things a Scotsman Wants to Know" it is necessary to study the religious controversies erupting across the United States in the summer of 1909 and consider the possibility that Mark Twain published additional commentary in Harper's Weekly on this same topic under more than one pseudonym.
George Burman Foster in Chicago
|A series of events in separate parts of the United States began in June 1909 that rocked the religious community and gave rise to the questions of whether or not Christian beliefs were undergoing radical change. The first controversy centered around Professor George Burman Foster (b. 1858 - d. 1918) of the University of Chicago. Foster, a Baptist minister, became one of the most influential theologians in his lifetime. Born in West Virginia in 1858., Foster graduated from West Virginia University and later studied at the Rochester Theological Seminary in New York. He later traveled abroad to Berlin, where he continued his theological studies. In 1895 he joined the faculty of the University of Chicago. Foster believed in a liberal interpretation of the Bible and when his book The Function of Religion in Man's Struggle for Existence was published in 1909 it generated a storm of debate with demands that he be ousted from the Baptist ministry and the University of Chicago.|| |
George Burman Foster
from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Baptist opponents criticized Foster for denying Christ's divinity and referring to a strict interpretation of the Bible as naive. Foster proposed that miracles were the refuge of ignorance and that modern techniques must take the place of magic. Foster believed that man had created God in his own image and not vice versa. The Baptist battle with Foster was played out in newspapers across the country . When opponents of Foster tried to drag John D. Rockefeller, a prominent Baptist who had given millions for building the University of Chicago, Rockefeller's secretary sent a reply indicating Rockefeller would not engage in theological hair splitting. Rockefeller's refusal to get involved led to even further criticism of Rockefeller's own Baptist minister in New York, Charles F. Akid..
Headlines regarding the Foster controversy appeared nationwide. The following are samples from newspapers in New York.
Front page of the Geneva (NY) Daily Times, June 17, 1909 featuring a story on the Rockefeller comment:
While the Baptist Chicago Minister's Conference did manage to expel Foster from their organization, he remained a member of the Baptist church and continued to hold his position as a professor of philosophy of religion at the University of Chicago until his death on December 22, 1918.
Archibald Black, John Ewing Steen, and George Ashmore Fitch in New York
John Ewing Steen
(b. 1881 - d. 1955)
George Ashmore Fitch
(b. 1883 - d. 1979)
At the same time the Baptist theologians were in an uproar over the writings of George Burman Foster, the Presbyterians in New York were facing their own upheaval. On June 14, 1909, three young graduates of Union Theological Seminary in New York City were licensed to preach in spite of their liberal interpretation of the Bible and beliefs that ran contrary to orthodox Presbyterian tenets. Archibald Black, born in Scotland in 1877, was the brother of Hugh Black who was chairman of Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York. John Ewing Steen, born in Pennsylvania in 1881, held degrees from Princeton University and was from a family of Presbyterian ministers. George Ashmore Fitch was born in China in 1883, the son of Presbyterian missionaries, and held a degree from the College of Wooster in Ohio. The Presbytery of New York, in split decisions, approved the licensing of the three young men following lengthy cross examinations. The decision left many of the more conservative committee members in tears. Black, Steen and Fitch professed beliefs that doubted the traditional Biblical version of Adam and Eve, the divine birth of Christ, and the literal interpretation of Christ's resurrection. The licensing of the three to preach was described in The New York Times as "one of the epoch making events in the history of the Presbyterian Church in America" ("Doubt Adam and Eve But They May Preach," The New York Times, 15 June 1909). The event stirred headlines in newspapers across the country.
"A chief interest for at least one summer"
According to biographer Albert Bigelow Paine, one of Mark Twain's favorite books that summer was Andrew Dickson White's A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom -- a two volume set published by Appleton and Company in 1901 that he had owned since 1902. Paine recalls that on June 21, 1909 Mark Twain referred to Dickson's book saying, "When you read it you see how those old theologians never reasoned at all" (Paine, p. Bio. 1506). Paine referred to the book as "a chief interest for at least one summer" (Paine, Bio. p. 1539). Twain's personal copy of White's two volumes are heavily marked with his marginalia including a reference to the fact that "Amherst lately refused the missionary-ticket to two young candidates who doubted that all the B.C. pagans are roasting in hell" (Gribben, p. 760). (A search for news stories related to an Amherst controversy has failed to find additional information.)
Harper's Weekly Publishes a Commentary
Edited by Col. George B. M. Harvey, Harper's Weekly published a commentary on the religious upheavals that summer titled "What Is Orthodoxy?" on July 3, 1909 (p. 5). The editorial was copied in newspapers around the country.
Harper's Weekly , July 3, 1909, p. 5.
It begins to look as if the dictionary-makers would have to frame a new definition for orthodoxy before long. A few weeks ago the Chicago Baptists refused to turn down Professor Foster in the face of his repudiation of the authority of the Scriptures and his denial of the deity of Christ, and now the Presbytery of New York admits to the pulpit young Mr. Black, of Edinburgh, who accepts the story of Adam and Eve only as a figure, "not in its literal sense," acknowledges the divinity of Christ but not the virgin birth, and does "not believe in the flesh and blood resurrection." Substantially, as we make them out both Professor Foster and Mr. Black subscribe to the Unitarian theory, and it is not so long ago that Unitarians were denied admission to Baptist and Presbyterian pulpits on the ground that their faith was not that of Christianity. Whither we are now drifting is difficult to determine, but that the current is strong and rapid is certain. The Rev. Amaziah C. Dixon tried to draw out Mr. John D. Rockefeller apropos of the Foster episode, but received no more than a sentence from a secretary to the effect that "Mr. Rockefeller is not bothering his mind about creeds or drawing hair-lines in theological discussions."
The publication of "What is Orthodoxy" in Harper's Weekly provided fuel for letters to the editor. At least one, which was never published in his lifetime, was written by Mark Twain using the pseudonym Beruth A. W. Kennedy. The entire sequence of correspondence that was published on the topic merits closer scrutiny.
"Donald Ross" Asks Some Questions
Prior to July 1909, Mark Twain's previous contribution to Harper's Weekly that year had been a short essay titled "The New Planet" in the January 30, 1909 issue. "The New Planet" was a response to the announcement that Harvard astronomers had observed "perturbations" in the planet Neptune which indicated the presence of a new planet in the solar system. Astronomy and religion were two of Mark Twain's favorite topics and newsworthy events in either field were likely to ignite his interest.
On July 24, 1909, (p. 6), Harper's Weekly published the following letter signed Donald Ross which included no date or indication of the author's residence:.
Without any additional clues to Donald Ross's identity, it is impossible to positively identify him. In this letter Donald Ross does not identify himself as a Scotsman. The question of whether or not Ross provided the headline "Things a Scotsman Want to Know" in his manuscript or whether Harper's Weekly editor George Harvey provided the headline is open to speculation. The Presbyterian denomination had originated in Scotland but it seems unlikely Harvey would have provided the headline based on a writer simply identifying himself as Presbyterian. The United States censuses for both 1900 and 1910 provide the names of at least four men named Donald Ross who were born in Scotland between 1830 and 1850 living in the United States at the time the letter was written. The time frames for their birthdates make them potential candidates to have taught a Sunday school class "forty years ago." The use of the name Donald Ross without an associated address protects the identity of all the possible candidates.
Did Mark Twain Write the Donald Ross Letter?
Mark Twain frequently mentioned his Presbyterian background in his writings. In a letter he wrote from St. Louis, Missouri to the San Francisco Alta California published May 19, 1867 he described addressing a children's Sunday school class:
Sunday afternoon, the Superintendent of one of those populous Sunday Schools came around to my pew and asked me if I had ever had any experience in instructing the young -- in addressing Sunday Schools. I said, "My son, it is my strong suit." (I was still keeping up my lick, as the missionaries say.)
He said he would be glad if I would get up in the altar and make a few remarks, and I said it would be the proudest moment of my life. So I got up there and told that admiring multitude all about Jim Smiley's Jumping Frog and I will do myself the credit to say that my efforts were received with the most rapturous applause, and that those of the solemn deacon's to stop it were entirely unheeded by the audience. I honestly intended to draw an instructive moral from that story, but when I got to the end of it I couldn't discover that there was any particular moral sticking out around it anywhere, and so I just let it slide. However, it don't matter. I suppose those children will cipher a moral out of it somehow, because they are so used to that sort of thing. I gained my main point, anyhow, which was to make myself respected in California, because you know you cannot help but respect a man who makes speeches to Sunday Schools, and devotes his time to instructing youth (reprinted in Mark Twain's Travels With Mr. Brown, p. 135).
What's In a Name? . or . Who Was Donald Ross?
If Mark Twain did write under the pseudonym of Donald Ross questioning God's role in the universe, was there any significance to his choice of that name? The name Donald Ross was the name of at least two preachers who were likely known to some of the readers of Harper's Weekly.
Donald Ross was the name of one of the most prominent evangelical preachers of his era. Ross immigrated from Scotland to the United States in 1879 and is known today as one of the founders of the Plymouth Brethren Church movement. Although his early upbringing was in the Presbyterian faith and the Free Church of Scotland, he later broke away from that established denomination and began his own style of preaching. Ross traveled to the United States and settled in Chicago but traveled extensively preaching throughout Canada and the states of Kansas, Texas, California, Oregon and Georgia. In America he was never a member of any formal church. He often rented buildings for delivering his sermons, but was most often found preaching under his tent. According to his son, "His chief delight in aggressive work was a tent. It was to him the symbol of Gospel pioneering, and he fairly revelled in it" (Ross, p. 68). From his home in Chicago, he published a monthly paper for "the Lord's people" called Our Record: A Monthly Publication for the Children of God.
Evangelical preacher Donald Ross, had he been living in 1909, could have claimed to have been connected with the Presbyterian church "forty years ago." But this Scotsman named Donald Ross died in 1903.
In 1909 America was still not lacking for a Presbyterian minister named Donald Ross. One young Canadian with a Scottish heritage had immigrated to California in the early 1890s.
San Francisco Morning Call, October 17, 1892, p. 7.
Donald McIntyre Ross was born in Canada in 1861 or 1862. Both his parents were born in Scotland. His early career in the pulpit in San Francisco was marked by controversy with Roman Catholic leaders for his criticism of Catholic church politics. From San Francisco, he moved to Chicago and by 1910 was living in Zanesville, Ohio. He later relocated to Denver,Colorado and spent his final years near Dallas, Texas where he died in March 1953.
Donald McIntyre Ross's date of birth in the early 1860s makes him much to young to fit the profile of the Harper's Weekly "Donald Ross" who in 1909 had taught classes in connection with the Presbyterian church "forty years ago."
The best summary that can be made of the "Donald Ross" name on the Harper's Weekly letter published July 24, 1909 is that it was likely a name a number of readers would associate with a preacher but further identification would be impossible. If Mark Twain chose it as a pseudonym for an otherwise anonymous letter, he made an excellent choice. A pseudonym would protect his two daughters Clara and Jean from public embarrassment as their father publicly probed the nation's conscious with profound theological questions.
"Answers to Correspondents"
Forty years previous to the "Donald Ross" letter -- In June 1865 The Californian, a literary weekly magazine, announced Mark Twain would be in charge of writing a department called "Answers to Correspondents." While other literary magazines of that day relied on authentic correspondents and readers to provide fodder for their often comic replies, Mark Twain set out to work with his own imagination -- creating fictitious readers who sent in questions while he provided his own answers. From June 3, 1865 to July 8, 1865, he published six "Answers to Correspondents" columns in The Californian. The faked questions provided a stage for launching his own additional commentary on topics of the day.
If Mark Twain penned the original "Donald Ross" inquiry to Harper's Weekly, then the published replies to the question should be examined for evidence of his additional handiwork. On August 28, 1909, p. 6, Harper's Weekly published two replies to the "Donald Ross" inquiry.
Letters from Harper's Weekly, August 28, 1909, p. 6.
In spite of these letters featuring signatures, dates, and places of origin, neither name -- E. Kaufman from Augusta, Maine or Isidore Sparling of Birmingham, Alabama can be verified as authentic. The U. S. censuses for 1900 and 1910 show no residents by either name for the towns of Augusta, Maine or Birmingham, Alabama. No historical death records, newspaper articles, or any other currently available database in the year 2012 verifies a connection between the names on the letters and places of composition. While negative evidence proves nothing, it does give rise to the suspicion that these names may have also been pseudonyms.
Analyzing E. Kaufman's Letter
The letter signed E. Kaufman is the letter that Mark Twain chose to reference in his unpublished letter to Harper's Weekly. In his reply dated August 31,  and signed with the pseudonym "Beruth A. W. Kennedy," Twain calls himself a "fellow-townsman" of Kaufman. A close examination of the Kaufman letter features the name "Donald Ross" rendered in quotation marks. The existence of the quotation marks appears to indicate that Kaufman knew the name Donald Ross was a pseudonym.
Do right and wrong exist per se, or is it merely the point of view? What is good for the early bird could hardly be called good for the worm. The point of view of course.
The emphasis that different points of view constituted the differences between right and wrong is a theme that can be found throughout several of Mark Twain's works. In The Innocents Abroad (1867) he describes his fellow passengers aboard the Quaker City praying for fair winds which, in turn, would be head winds to other travelers going in the opposite direction. The same theme is echoed in "War Prayer" (written in 1905) which forced readers to place themselves in the position of those facing destruction as a result of prayers uttered by an enemy. Mark Twain used points of view to blur the lines between right and wrong.
E. Kaufman's letter ends with the line "Read Marcus Aurelius." Marcus Aurelius was Roman emperor from 161 to 180 AD. His meditations have survived through the centuries as a monument of stoic philosophy. Readers of Harper's Weekly would likely be familiar with Marcus Aurelius. A few months earlier, in June 1909, Charles W. Eliot, former university president of Harvard, had placed Meditations of Marcus Aurelius on his recommended list of only 25 volumes that could help give any man a liberal education. Eliot's book selections received extensive newspaper publicity as well as criticism for not including the Bible or the works of Shakespeare.
It is unknown whether or not Mark Twain ever owned a copy of Marcus Aurelius's writings. However, one of the books that scholars agree had a profound influence on Mark Twain's philosophical development -- History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne by William E. H. Lecky (1874) -- contains lengthy discussions of the philosophy of Marcus Aurelius. Clemens was an avid and continual reader of Lecky and evidence suggests he was reading or recalling passages from Lecky's book in 1909 when he referred to Lecky in his story "The International Lightning Trust" -- a story written during the same time frame as "Things a Scotsman Want to Know" and "Letters from the Earth."
Whether or not Mark Twain merely felt a close tie to the thinking expressed in E. Kaufman's letter or whether he actually wrote the letter himself using E. Kaufman as another pseudonym is a question open to speculation.
Analyzing Isidore Sparling's Letter
Isidore Sparling's letter, dated a few days prior to E. Kaufman's letter, criticizes the Don Ross inquiry as one that expects answers to profound questions from the pages of a mere weekly journal. Sparling's letter, written from the viewpoint of a Jewish scholar, explains that a thorough answer would require "numerous volumes." However, the Sparling letter also echoes the opinion that the differences between right and wrong are due to different points of view.
Analyzing Mark Twain's Letter signed "Beruth A. W. Kennedy"
Alongside "Letters from the Earth"
Two days after Harper's Weekly published the Kaufman and Sparling replies to the original Donald Ross inquiry, Mark Twain wrote a reply he signed "Beruth A. W. Kennedy" and he dated it August 31 . The response is more vitriolic and critical of contemporary religious teaching than any of Harper Weekly's previous correspondence on the topic. It is not known whether a copy of the letter was sent to Harper's Weekly and the publication declined to print it, or whether Clemens himself decided not to submit it. The full text of the letter was not published until 1973 when editors of Mark Twain's works and papers decided to include it the Iowa-California edition of What Is Man? And Other Philosophical Writings. A side by side comparison of the letter with passages from "Letters from the Earth," also included in that same volume, illustrates the close relationship between both compositions. In his letter titled "Things a Scotsman Wants to Know" Mark Twain specifically addresses the question: "Is God the author of evil?":
From "Things a Scotsman Wants to Know"
Evil? There is a plenty of it here below -- invented in heaven and sent down day and night by the giant cargo and prodigally distributed over an utterly innocent and unoffending world. For what purpose? That bright darling, the pulpit, says, to discipline man, and incline him to love his Maker. What a splendid idea! I doubt if there is a cow in the country that is intellectual enough to invent the match to it.
Every day the cargo comes down, with presents for us all -- Christmas all the year round, as it were: cholera, mumps, chills, the Indian Black Death, diphtheria, small pox, scarlet fever, consumption, epilepsy, measles, whooping cough, pneumonia, blindness, lameness, deafness, dumbness, heart failure, apoplexy, hydrophobia, idiocy, insanity, palsy, lockjaw, boils, ulcers, cancers, lumbago, St. Vitus's dance, gout, yellow fever, sleeping sickness, nervous prostration, religion, catalepsy, dropsy, typhoid, malaria, the house-fly, the mosquito, the flea, the louse, appendicitis, meningitis, hunger, cold, poverty, grief, misery in a million forms, and thirty-eight billion hostile microbes in every man's lower intestine waiting to take a chance if the other inducements to holy living fail to catch the student out and hale him to the grave.
Christmas every day, as you see, and something for everybody. Isn't it a wonderful grab-bag? Invented in heaven, too, not in the other place. Have you ever been acquainted with a mere man who would consent to provide any one of these things for the instruction and improvement of his family and friends? Have you ever been acquainted with a mere man who would not be ashamed if you charged him with inflicting any one of them either openly or secretly upon his enemy? If you charged him with it and proved it, and he explained that he did it to make the beneficiary love him, would you let him continue to run at large? The pulpit says God's ways are not our ways. Thanks. Let us try to get along with our own the best we can we can't improve on them by experimenting with His.
All these horrors are emptied upon man, woman, and helpless child indiscriminately, to discipline them and make them good, and incline them to love their Maker. So the pulpit says. But the like are emptied upon the reptile, the bird, the quadruped and the insect, in the same lavish way. They torture each other, they mutilate each other, they rob each other, they kill each other, they eat each other, they live in the hourly fear of death all their days. Is the idea to train them to righteousness, and make them pious, and fit them for heaven?
If it isn't, then what is it for? Why is it done? There is certainly no sense in it, either in their case or man's. Even the cow with all her intellectual prejudices, will think twice before she disputes that. Then what is it for? Why is it done? It seems to me that it proves one thing conclusively: if our Maker is all-powerful for good or evil, He is not in His right mind.
What Is Man? And Other Philosophical Writings. Edited by Paul Baender. (University of California Press, 1973), pp. 399-400.
From "Letters from the Earth"
Think of the diseases he has contrived for them! They are multitudinous no book can name them all. And each one is a trap, set for an innocent victim.
The human being is a machine. An automatic machine. It is composed of thousands of complex and delicate mechanisms, which perform their functions harmoniously and perfectly, in accordance with laws devised for their governance, and over which the man himself has no authority, no mastership, no control. For each one of these thousands of mechanisms the Creator has planned an enemy, whose office is to harass it, pester it, persecute it, damage it, afflict it with pains, and miseries, and ultimate destruction. Not one has been overlooked.
From cradle to grave these enemies are always at work, they know no rest, night nor day. They are an army an organized army a besieging army an assaulting army an army that is alert, watchful, eager, merciless an army that never wearies, never relents, never grants a truce.
It moves by squad, by company, by battalion, by regiment, by division, by army corps upon occasion it masses its parts and moves upon mankind with its whole strength. It is the Creator's Grand Army, and he is the Commander in Chief. Along it battlefront its grisly banners wave their legends in the face of the sun: Disaster, Disease, and the rest.
Disease! that is the main force, the diligent force, the devastating force! It attacks the infant the moment it is born it furnishes it one malady after another: croup, measles, mumps, bowel troubles, teething-pains, scarlet fever, and other childhood specialties. It chases the child into youth and furnishes it some specialties for that time of life. It chases the youth into maturity maturity into age, and age into the grave.
With these facts before you will you now try to guess man's chiefest pet name for this ferocious Commander in Chief? I will save you the trouble -- but you must not laugh. It is Our Father in Heaven!
It is curious -- the way the human mind works. The Christian begins with this straight proposition, this definite proposition, this inflexible and uncompromising proposition: God is all-knowing, and all-powerful.
This being the case, nothing can happen without his knowing beforehand that it is going to happen nothing happens without his permission nothing can happen that he chooses to prevent.
That is definite enough, isn't it? It makes the Creator distinctly responsible for everything that happens, doesn't it?
The Christian concedes it in that italicised sentence. Concedes it with feeling, with enthusiasm.
Then, having thus made the Creator responsible for all those pains and diseases and miseries above enumerated, and which he could have prevented, the gifted Christian blandly calls him Our Father!
It is as I tell you. He equips the Creator with every trait that goes to the making of a fiend, and then arrives at the conclusion, that a fiend and a father are the same thing! Yet he would deny that a malevolent lunatic and a Sunday school superintendent are essentially the same. What do you think of the human mind? I mean, in case you think there is a human mind.
What Is Man? And Other Philosophical Writings. Edited by Paul Baender. (University of California Press, 1973), pp. 427-428.
No significance in Mark Twain's selection of the name Beruth A. W. Kennedy as a pseudonym has been established. The name is not found in any historical records available in searchable databases in 2012. If Mark Twain did send a copy of his letter signed Beruth A. W. Kennedy to Harper's Weekly, the name was so unusual it would likely not be claimed by anyone else.
In "The Privilege of the Grave" written in September 1905 Mark Twain confessed:
There is currently no conclusive evidence that Mark Twain perpetuated a "correspondents" hoax based on a letter signed "Donald Ross" and headlined "Things a Scotsman Wants to Know" in Harper's Weekly during the summer of 1909. What is conclusive is that he did write at least one letter related to the debate that was never published until 1973. The religious debates swirling around him that summer of 1909 were of vital interest to him but his viewpoints were those he felt must be hidden behind pseudonyms and not openly expressed. The use of pseudonyms would have offered him an outlet for those expressions and protected his surviving daughters and literary reputation as well.
WHO IS MARK TWAIN? available from amazon.com
contains the full text of "The Privilege of the Grave"
Bjorlie, John. "Ross, Donald Bio," Online Biblical Resource Library. Accessed 19 June 2012.
Donald Ross Overview . Online at ancestry.com. Accessed 18 June 2012.
Foster, George Burman. The Function of Religion in Man's Struggle for Existence. (University of Chicago Press, 1909).
Gribben, Alan. Mark Twain's Library: A Reconstruction. (G. K. Hall and Company, 1980).
Paine, Albert Bigelow. Mark Twain: A Biography, 4 volumes. (Harper and Brothers, 1912).
_____. Mark Twain's Letters, Volume 2. (Harper and Brothers, 1917).
Rasmussen, R. Kent. Critical Companion to Mark Twain, Volumes 1 and 2. (Facts on File, 2007).
Ross, C. W., ed. Donald Ross: Pioneer Evangelist of the North of Scotland and United States of America. (John Ritchie, n.d.).
Twain, Mark. Fables of Man. Edited by John S. Tuckey. (University of California Press, 1972).
_____. What Is Man? And Other Philosophical Writings. Edited by Paul Baender. (University of California Press, 1973).
_____. Who Is Mark Twain? HarperCollins, 2009.
Walker, Franklin and G. Ezra Dane, eds. Mark Twain's Travels With Mr. Brown. (Alfred A. Knopf, 1940).
The death of Henry left Twain stricken with severe guilt and grief, as he blamed himself for the death of his brother for the rest of his life. Twain claimed that one month before the explosion occurred, he had a dream in which he had a premonition about his brother’s death.
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