CRF Blog

Autobiography of Mark Twain

by Bill Hayes

Today is the 175th birthday of Mark Twain. This year also marks the 100th anniversary of his death. Twain left instructions that his unexpurgated autobiography not be published until 100 years after his death. Following his instructions, the University of California Press waited until now to publish Twain’s uncensored autobiography. Twain’s papers are stored at UC Berkeley, and the UC Press has also put up a slide show on Twain’s life: This Is Mark Twain. Click on “Enter” to view it.

From the review in the New York Times:

Whether anguishing over American military interventions abroad or delivering jabs at Wall Street tycoons, this Twain is strikingly contemporary. Though the autobiography also contains its share of homespun tales, some of its observations about American life are so acerbic — at one point Twain refers to American soldiers as “uniformed assassins” — that his heirs and editors, as well as the writer himself, feared they would damage his reputation if not withheld.

“From the first, second, third and fourth editions all sound and sane expressions of opinion must be left out,” Twain instructed them in 1906. “There may be a market for that kind of wares a century from now. There is no hurry. Wait and see.”

The Boston Review has a more in-depth review of the book.