Known to readers around the world as Mark Twain, Samuel Clemens moved to Redding in 1908, after construction of his Italianate villa “Stormfield,” was completed. Declining health eventually slowed the hectic pace of his celebrity life, and Clemens died in Redding in 1910. While Clemens’ Stormfield burned down in 1923, his most important Redding legacy remains—the Mark Twain Library Association that he founded shortly after he moved to town.
The present-day Library is fortunate to have more than his illustrious name to remember him by. Some 200 of the 3,000 books he donated to start the library are still in the Library’s collection. Thanks to a collaboration between the library and the New York Times, many of those books can be explored online.
The Library has a number of artifacts once owned by Clemens, his family, or his associates. The walls of the library are adorned with his wonderful quotes. A select collection of Clemens’ work and books about Clemens’ life are available at the library—some of these items circulate, while others can be viewed by appointment.
For those interested in learning more about the author, the various academic archives, research institutions, and websites listed below have amassed significant amounts of information on the life and works of Samuel Clemens:
The Bancroft Library at University of California at Berkeley is the repository of many of Samuel Clemens’ private papers. Collecting photocopies and transcriptions from other institutions, the project has made it possible to read virtually every document in Twain’s hand known to survive. The project systematically publishes this material in print editions, and is beginning to make it available online. A complete index of 11,000 letters is accessible on the archive website now, and the archive is working to place its entire photographic holdings online.
Samuel Clemens spent a great deal of time in Elmira, New York. His wife was born there, he was married there and most of his children were born there. For nearly 20 summers, Clemens returned to his in-law’s Quarry Farm in Elmira, where he worked on his most famous books. He, his wife, and his children are buried in Elmira’s Woodlawn Cemetery.
Elmira College has built on these associations to become a center for research on Twain’s literary legacy, promoting Twain scholarship through research grants and academic conferences. In recent years, it has also received a number of interesting collections of materials on Mark Twain’s life.
This site has what it describes as an unequalled directory of Twain quotations, extensively indexed, and illustrated with rare Twain photographs. It also includes an outstanding collection of full-text articles from contemporary newspapers—including extensive selections of Twain’s articles from his days as a reporter in California, hundreds of articles about Twain from the New York Times, and the text of many interviews.
This is the home of the mailing list for the Mark Twain Forum, an organization which promotes discussion among those with ” a scholarly interest in the life and times of Mark Twain”; archives of the listserv dating from 1992 can be accessed. The site also offers reviews of the many books that continue to be published about Mark Twain and provides links to some scholarly articles as well.
Of particular note is “About Mark Twain,” which provides information appropriate for upper elementary and secondary school students. Included is a biography of Samuel Clemens, timeline of his life, summaries of 16 of his books, descriptions of his friends and acquaintances, and so on.
Samuel Clemens and his family lived in a 19-room mansion in the Nook Farm neighborhood of Hartford, Connecticut, for almost twenty years, until financial problems forced them to reduce expenses by embarking on a worldwide fundraising lecture tour. The house, just an hour’s drive from Redding, has now been fully restored; a museum wing, holding almost 50,000 items relating to Mark Twain’s life, was recently opened. The website allows a virtual tour of the distinctive house and access to some of the museum’s collection for those who cannot make the trip.
Evangeline Walker Andrews provides a fascinating perspective on the family life of Samuel Clemens in “An Incident”. This true tale of her sophomore year at Bryn Mawr, when Ms. Andrews befriended “Susy” Clemens, was donated to the Library by Andrews’ granddaughter Eve Dillingham.