Mark Twain: Man in White: The Grand Adventure of His Final Years

Mark Twain: Man in White: The Grand Adventure of His Final Years

Michael Shelden

Language: English

Pages: 528

ISBN: 0679448004

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

One day in late 1906, seventy-one-year-old Mark Twain attended a meeting on copyright law at the Library of Congress. The arrival of the famous author caused the usual stir—but then Twain took off his overcoat to reveal a "snow-white" tailored suit and scandalized the room. His shocking outfit appalled and delighted his contemporaries, but far more than that, as Pulitzer Prize finalist Michael Shelden shows in this wonderful new biography, Twain had brilliantly staged this act of showmanship to cement his image, and his personal legend, in the public's imagination. That afternoon in Washington, less than four years before his death, marked the beginning of a vibrant, tumultuous period in Twain's life that would shape much of the now-famous image by which he has come to be known—America's indomitable icon, the Man in White.

Although Mark Twain has long been one of our most beloved literary figures—Time magazine has declared him "our original superstar"—his final years have been largely misunderstood. Despite family tragedies, Twain's last half- decade was among the most dynamic periods in the author's life. With the spirit and vigor of a man fifty years younger, he continued to stir up trouble, perfecting his skill for living large. Writing ceaselessly and always ready with one of his legendary quips, Twain would risk his fortune, become the willing victim of a lost-at-sea hoax, and pick fights with King Leopold of Belgium and Mary Baker Eddy.

Drawing on a number of unpublished sources, including Twain's own journals, letters, and a revealing four-hundred-page personal account kept under wraps for decades (and still yet to be published), Mark Twain: Man in White brings the legendary author's twilight years vividly to life, offering surprising insights, including an intimate, tender look at his family life. Filled with first-rate scholarship, rare and never-published Twain photos, delightful anecdotes, and memorable quotes, including numerous recovered Twainisms, this definitive biography of Twain's last years provides a remarkable portrait of the man himself and of the unforgettable era in American letters that, in many ways, he helped to create.



















worshippers present at this religious service did not break out in grateful applause … and I wish I may never permanently die, if the jailbird didn’t smile all over his face and look as radiantly happy as he will look some day when Satan gives him a Sunday vacation in the cold storage vault.”29 Much as the experience of that night pained him, he took his revenge a little later when he called in his stenographer and rained insults on Clark in an autobiographical dictation, inventing elaborate

until she had become pregnant by one of her students and had then claimed that mental science was the real cause of her pregnancy. She was a great believer in hypnosis and the power of suggestion, so she thought it perfectly natural to announce that her child— christened “The Prince of Peace”—was the result of an immaculate conception. Eddy refused to go along with this ruse, and Woodbury was banished from the church. For several years, however, she waged a rearguard action against her former

incident of its kind during his trip. Everyone except Corelli seems to have treated him with the greatest deference and courtesy. A few days of rest at Brown’s helped to restore his good humor. By the following Saturday—with only a week left in his stay—he was ready for a little mischief and decided it was time to break Clara’s rule and make his first London appearance in his white suit. He chose to do it at a familiar place—the Savage Club, whose boisterous membership of bohemian gentlemen had

According to the New York Tribune , there were so many people on the street that the police had “their hands full in keeping the enthusiastic residents from storming the building.” Besides the white-haired figures of Twain and Carnegie, other important guests attending were Governor Charles Evans Hughes; U.S. senator Chauncey Depew; District Attorney William Jerome; Police Commissioner Theodore Bingham; President Charles Eliot of Harvard; the conductor of the New York Symphony, Walter Damrosch;

her father before taking off again to do a concert tour in New England. One reason that she came back to New York was to perform at a small theater in her father’s neighborhood. On a Saturday night in early November she sang for a friendly audience at the Young Women’s Christian Association, then located at 7 East Fifteenth Street, only a few blocks from Twain’s house. Interestingly, she performed a number that must have been dear to her father’s heart, Joan of Arc’s aria “Adieu, forêts” from

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