Tag Archives: Gilded Age


Claude Hope and Johnny Bright to SLC, 14 April 1882, (UCLC 41249) Reproduced with permission. Further reproduction without express written permission is prohibited.

Mark Twain liked to imagine moments of speaking from beyond the grave. Perhaps the most well-known example is in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as Huck, Joe, and Tom—but mostly Tom—enjoy the melancholic, sweet, and ridiculous gratification of hearing their own funeral sermon from the gallery of the community church. Twain imagined his own postmortem moments, too. Below he interrupted an 1880 letter to Joseph Twitchell to address those he thought would be peeking through his mail: Well, we are Read more…


In a recent New York Times column heralding “The Collapse of American Identity,” Robert Jones  notes that British writer G.K. Chesterton once observed that the United States was “a nation with the soul of a church.” According to Jones, Chesterton “wasn’t referring to the nation’s religiosity but to its formation around a set of core political beliefs enshrined in founding ‘sacred texts,’ like the Declaration of Independence.” Jones uses Chesterton’s comment as a counterpoint to the “two mutually exclusive narratives emerging along party Read more…


The above image, courtesy of The Mark Twain Project at UC-Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, comes from an engraved greeting card Twain circulated in January, 1876. William Dean Howells, upon receiving one, described the frog as “luridly hopping along, and looking as if he had just got out of a pond of hellfire.” The card was designed by True Williams, who offered it gratis to Twain and his publisher as thanks for the sustained employment they had recently provided him. Williams’s illustrations in Adventures of Tom Read more…


There is perhaps no greater testament to Twain’s lasting reputation than the habitual misattribution of miscellaneous wit and wisdom to his name. The circulation of such apocryphal aphorisms was common enough in the 20th century. It has only increased with the popularization of digital media. The most common question addressed to the Center for Mark Twain Studies is some variety of “Did he really say that?” Whenever possible, we track down the original source, as well as attempt to trace Read more…

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