Mark Twain

It’s the poetry every American writes every day—a centuries-old epic of abuse, taunt, criminality, love, and bright, mocking beauty.

The best news of the year for word buffs, amateur etymologists, professional linguists, and all who respond to the incredible richness of the American language is that J. E. Lighter has found a home for his Historical Dictionary of American Slang. Read more >>

The man who has lived with him nearly as long as Samuel Clemens did tells why Twain still has the power to delight—and to disturb

Beginning with a lecture in St. Louis in 1867, Mark Twain’s famous career as a public speaker spanned about 40 years. But thanks to his avatar Hal Holbrook, he has gone on amusing and instructing and scolding us for another half-century on stages all over the world. Read more >>

A student of an underappreciated literary genre selects some books that may change the way you see what you do.

It has always struck me that the best business novels are interactive. Read more >>

WILLIE MORRIS revisits a book that nourished him as a boy and discovers that the landscapes the young Samuel Clemens navigated are in fact the topography of Morris’s own life

MARK TWAIN WAS BORN ALMOST EXACTLY A century before I was into a small-town Mississippi Valley culture that, despite the centennial difference, bore remarkable resemblances to my own. Read more >>
You had better shove this in the stove,” twenty-nine-year-old Sam Clemens wrote his older brother, Orion, in 1865, “for … I don’t want any absurd ‘literary remains’ & ‘unpublished letters of Mark Twain’ published after I am planted.” Read more >>

For a hundred years now Americans have been reading as comedy Mark Twain’s dark indictment of chivalry, technology—and all mankind

After a full century in print, Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court remains one of the queerer and more disturbing exercises of the American literary imagination, a brilliant comic fantasy that turns savage and shakes itself t Read more >>

The modern city plays host to conventions and tourists, but it still retains the slightly racy charm that has always made it dear to its natives

Writers have been good to New Orleans, or maybe it’s the other way around. Read more >>

Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner for 150 Years

SINCE NEW YORK CITY IS WHERE, AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER, MOST OF THE MONEY IN THE COUNTRY tends to migrate, it is not surprising that it seems to have almost as many jewelry stores as it does restaurants. Read more >>

Walden is here, of course; but so too is Fanny Farmer’s first cookbook

America is not a nation of readers, yet books have had a deep and lasting effect on its national life. Read more >>

The years the famous writer spent in their town were magic to a young boy and his sister.

A year after our arrival in Redding, Connecticut, Mark Twain came there to live. Read more >>

For years it was seen as the worst of times: bloated, crass, witlessly extravagant. But now scholars are beginning to find some of the era’s unexpected virtues.

It was a difficult birth, but it looks as if the child will live forever

“BY AND BY,” Mark Twain wrote to William Dean Howells in 1875, “I shall take a boy of twelve and run him through life (in the first person) but not Tom Sawyer —he would not be a good character for it.” A month later he knew that the boy wo Read more >>

The author of ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ never set foot on our shores, but he had a clear and highly personal vision of what we were and what we had been

FOR A WHILE George Orwell thought of calling his novel about life in a totalitarian future The Last Man in Europe. Read more >>

He Never Got Hawaii out of His System

On Sunday morning, March 18, 1866, the steamer A jay. sailed into Honolulu Harbor while the bells of six different mission churches called the freshly converted faithful to worship. Read more >>
Mark Twain, surely the most American of great American writers, was, like the country itself, a creature of stupendous contradictions—gentle and tender at any given moment, and in the next possessed of rages so intense they cou Read more >>

In 1885, when Samuel L. Clemens' delightful daughter Susy was thirteen and he forty-nine, she secretly began a biography of her father, "Papa"—Mark Twain—soon discovered it, to his immense pleasure

In 1885, when Samuel L. Read more >>

You entered it only rarely, and you weren’t meant to be comfortable there. But every house had to have one, no matter how high the cost

Before the assembled great of literary New England Mark Twain rose to poke gentle fun at their pretensions. Would they laugh, or was he laying an egg?

Missives, one by Mark Twain, the other by Walt Whitman, reflect the impact of the Civil War on the nation.

Hardly a person in America was untouched by the Civil War, and Mark Twain and Walt Whitman were no exceptions. Because they were perhaps the most distinctly “American” writers of their time, their reactions to the conflict are particularly interesting. Read more >>