The Fall 2016 issue of the Mark Twain Journal honors scholar, collector, and longtime Friend of the Center, Kevin Mac Donnell. Mac Donnell has spent the past thirty years building the largest private collection of Twain-related books, manuscripts, and artifacts. Mac Donnell’s personal archive provides the foundation for dozens of his own publications, including Mark Twain & Youth, co-edited with R. Kent Rasmussen, a collection of essays which provides the theme for the 2016 CMTS Weekend Symposium beginning this Friday.
As five senior Twain scholars outline in their MTJ contributions, Mac Donnell’s skill as a collector has served far more than his own scholarship. Mac Donnell has been generous in providing access to other scholars, loaning items for exhibit (including to Elmira College), and using his knowledge of both private and public Twain resources to aid a wide variety of research programs. I can speak to this from experience. This past summer, using his personal auction records, Kevin helped me track Samuel Clemens’s copy of Robert Browning’s Parleyings with Certain People of Importance in Their Day through several sales to its current home at the Morgan Library in New York City. Without him, my search likely would have been in vain or, at the very least, would’ve taken months rather than hours.
Friends of CMTS will find several other essays in the Fall 2016 issue of considerable interest, perhaps foremost Deborah Lee’s “Love & Debt: A True Story of Mary Ann Cord, John T. Lewis, & Mark Twain at Quarry Farm.” While the relationship between the Clemens/Langdon/Crane families and the African-American cook and caretaker who inspired several Twain works is familiar to both scholars and Elmirans, Lee fleshes it out, with particular attention to Lewis and Cord’s conflicting religious beliefs.
The issue also features an essay by Mark Niemeyer on “national unity” in Huckleberry Finn, two essays on teaching Twain in secondary schools by Hugh Davis and John Pascal, and an introduction to the new staff members at CMTS. The Mark Twain Journal is edited by Alan Gribben and published by the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College. Subscriptions are available by contacting [email protected]. Issues are also available for perusal at Gannett-Tripp Library.