by Barbara Schmidt

A History of and Guide to

"This time 'Pudd'nhead Wilson' is a success! Even Mrs. Clemens, the most difficult of critics, confesses it and without reserves or qualifications."
Samuel Clemens to Fred J. Hall, 30 July 1893

Chapter 17
Brief Overview of Volume 14:
Pudd'nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins

Composition and First Publication

The history of the composition of Pudd'nhead Wilson is a complicated one. In 1891 while the family was in Europe Clemens saw the Tocci Siamese twins in exhibition. He was inspired to write a farce titled "Those Extraordinary Twins" which eventually transformed itself, through his creative processes into an entirely different story. Clemens extensively edited the story and transformed it into the story which became "Pudd'nhead Wilson." The final story contains about 53,000 words in 22 chapters and is a tale of two babies who are switched at birth.

In September 1893 Clemens arranged to have the story serialized in Century Magazine. The serial ran from December 1893 to June 1894 with six illustrations by Louis Loeb (b. 1866 - d. 1909). In November 1894 American Publishing Company issued the first edition as a subscription book. In order to add bulk to the relatively short book, publisher Frank Bliss added the excised portion of the original story and called it "Those Extraordinary Twins" along with a short explanation from Clemens describing its relationship to his final version. American Publishing Company titled the book The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson and the Comedy Those Extraordinary Twins. The book contained about 432 illustrations by relatively unknown artists Frank M. Senior (b. 1849 - d. 1903) and Calvin H. Warren (b. 1853 - d. 1914). The original illustrations appeared around the margins of each page and served a purpose of further adding bulk to the text. Clemens's British publisher Chatto and Windus published the book about the same time but chose to issue only Pudd'nhead Wilson, A Tale and did not include "Those Extraordinary Twins." The British edition utilized the six original illustrations drawn by Louis Loeb for Century Magazine.

Refining the Work

The 1899 uniform edition of the work from American Publishing Company is titled Pudd'nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins. The words "Tragedy" and "Comedy" have been removed. Production of the new 1899 plates also had the potential to introduce inconsistencies into the texts that were the result of typesetting errors.

Frank Bliss intended to correct any errors for subsequent printings and hired Forrest Morgan (b. 1852 - d. 1924), a fastidious proofreader, to weed out errors. Morgan, a former editor of the Hartford Travelers Record and later an assistant librarian at Watkinson Library in Hartford, read from a set of the Royal Edition to mark errors.

Clemens was familiar with the work of Forrest Morgan in Travelers Record. When Clemens wrote "Stirring Times in Austria" in 1897 he quoted from a long passage he credited to Morgan to describe the history of disunity in the Austro-Hungarian empire. "Stirring Times in Austria" was published in Harper's Monthly in March 1898 and is reprinted in Volume 22.

Morgan's 22-volume set of the Royal Edition with his annotations is in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, a gift from William Lyon Phelps in 1922.

Forrest Morgan
Forrest Morgan, proofreader for the 1899 uniform edition, helped refine the works for subsequent editions.

The most comprehensive examination of the texts of the manuscripts and the early editions of the work was conducted by Sidney E. Berger for the 1980 Norton Critical Edition of the book. There is no evidence that Clemens authorized any substantial revisions to the work.

W. H. W. Bicknell's Contributions

Bicknell portrait
William Harry Warren Bicknell
photo courtesy of the Winchester, Massachusetts Archival Center

Frank Bliss hired new illustrators for the 1899 uniform edition. Artist and etcher William Harry Warren Bicknell (b. 1860 - d. 1947) was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of a grocer. Bicknell graduated from the Boston Latin School in 1878 and later studied at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. He was a pupil of Otto Grundmann and Frederic Crowningshield. Bicknell etched a number of frontispieces made from photographs of Clemens that were used throughout the set. Bicknell's etching of the Tiffany monogram appears as a title page in every volume of the Autograph Edition, Edition De Luxe, Japan Edition, Author's De Luxe Edition, and the Royal Edition. All of these editions began issuing in 1899.

Less expensive editions such as Underwood, Riverdale, and Hillcrest feature the Tiffany title page in Volume 1 only. It was eliminated altogether from the Author's National Edition.

Frontispiece Portrait by Charles Noel Flagg

The frontispiece for Volume 14, Pudd'nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins, represents the first departure in the 1899 series away from Bicknell's engraved frontispieces. The frontispiece is from an 1891 painting of Clemens by Charles Noel Flagg (b. 1848 - d. 1916). Born in New York, Flagg had studied art in Paris for ten years. He was a resident of Hartford, Connecticut when he painted Clemens's portrait. Flagg was a well-regarded artist, teacher, and founder of the Connecticut League of Art Students. He was also a contributor to Atlantic Monthly magazine and other publications.

PW Frontispiece
Frontispiece by Elson Company of Boston from painting of Clemens by Charles Noel Flagg, 1891

The frontispiece is signed "Elson, Boston." The Elson Company of Boston was founded by Alfred Walter Elson (b. 1859 - d. 1944) who began in the art printing business in 1888. Elson also became associated with Harvard University as a lecturer on printing and publishing.

Edward Windsor Kemble, Illustrator

Edward Windsor Kemble (b. 1861 - d. 1933) was born in Sacramento, California, the son of Edward Cleveland Kemble who founded the San Francisco Alta California. His first attempts at drawing were those of Indians drawn when he was about eleven years old and traveling with his father throughout the West. In the winter of 1880-1881 he attended class in New York at the Art Students' League. After that brief stint, Kemble became largely self-taught and obtained a job as a cartoonist at New York's Daily Graphic. When Life magazine was founded in 1883 he became a contributor to that publication. When Clemens saw some of his Negro drawings in Life magazine, he recruited him to illustrate the first edition of Huckleberry Finn. After the success of Huckleberry Finn, Century magazine made him an offer for all of his work outside of book publications. He remained with Century until 1891. Kemble died in 1933 with a lengthy list of book illustration work to his credit. Edward Kemble
Edward Windsor Kemble

In a letter from Kemble to Frank Bliss dated May 16, 1898, Kemble told Bliss he would be happy to join the "goodly company" of artists and provide illustrations for "a volume of Mark Twain." Bliss had also awarded Kemble the illustrating assignment for the 1899 edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. For Pudd'nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins, Kemble provided six new full-page pictures to illustrate the Pudd'nhead Wilson chapters of the book.

One of Kemble's illustrations titled "Buckstone Training with the Rum Party" was hand-colored and used as the frontispiece for the 1901 Riverdale Edition.

Kemble's "Buckstone Training with the Rum Party" from the 1901 Riverdale Edition


Scholarly Misinterpretation of Kemble's Roxy

Kemble's previous style of depicting black people as unattractive caricatures was unchanged throughout Pudd'nhead Wilson. His drawings of the central character Roxy, who was only 1/16 black, depict a less attractive woman than the illustrations of her by Louis Loeb which had appeared in the Century Magazine serialization. Kemble's image would be the one presented to the greatest number of American readers for years to come and one illustration in particular became the source of scholarly misidentification and misinterpretation.

The 1899 edition of Pudd'nhead Wilson features two illustrations of Roxy, both in the company blacks. In 1901 American Publishing Company authorized the Underwood Edition which contained fewer illustrations. Only one illustration of Roxy was used and it was featured prominently as a frontispiece. The decision to present the below illustration as the first one a reader would see was repeated by Harper and Brothers in subsequent uniform editions. It has been a source of misunderstanding for critics who were not adept at reading the picture and who never had an opportunity to see Kemble's other illustration of Roxy.

Roxy in the kitchen
Kemble's "Roxy Harvesting Among the Kitchens" was featured as the frontispiece of uniform editions after 1901. Her body is hidden behind the two black adults and only her face is shown. Some critics concluded the prominent black woman was Kemble's misinterpretation of Roxy.

In the 1899 editions, "Roxy Harvesting Among the Kitchens" is placed preceding a passage in Chapter 10 about "racy tattle."

"However, as a rule her conversation was made up of racy tattle about the privacies of the chief families of the town (for she went harvesting among their kitchens every time she came to the village)."

When the illustration was moved to the frontispiece position, some readers may have concluded it represented a passage from Chapter 8:

"She would get along, surely; there were many kitchens where the servants would share their meals with her, and also steal sugar and apples and other dainties for her to carry home -- "

With the scarce availability of the original 1899 uniform editions, some scholars had no access to Kemble's entire body of work for Pudd'nhead Wilson on which to draw their conclusions. And they never saw Kemble's other illustration for Roxy.

Roxy and field hand
Kemble's "Roxy Among the Field Hands" never appeared in uniform editions after 1901.

One of the most prominent Mark Twain scholars to criticize Kemble for misinterpretating Mark Twain's work was Leslie Fiedler. In Fiedler's review titled "As Free as Any Cretur..." published in The New Republic in August 1955 he wrote that the image of Roxy that Twain created was "a portrait so complex and unforeseen that the baffled illustrator for the authorized standard edition chose to ignore it completely, drawing in the place of a 'majestic...rosy...comely' Roxana--a gross and comic Aunt Jemima."

In 1987 Martha Banta followed Fiedler's lead in her work Imaging American Women: Idea and Ideals in Cultural History writing:

Kemble did not draw the Roxy Mark Twain portrays. He set down the accepted fictions, "the orthodox opinions," governing turn-of-the-century identification of inferior racial types. A stroke of Kemble's pen wipes out the verbal irony by which Mark Twain set up cross-currents among what Roxy looks like, her bottom-nature, and the racial tag placed upon her by society (Banta, p. 182).

One of the most cogent discussions of the Kemble misinterpretations is by Werner Sollors in his essay "Was Roxy Black?" published in Mixed Race Literature (2002), edited by Jonathan Brennan. Sollors suggests that Kemble may have "hidden" Roxy in "Harvesting Among the Kitchens" as a conscious way of honoring Mark Twain's sentence "From Roxy's manner of speech, a stranger would have expected her to be black, but she was not" (Brennan, p. 82). As a result of publishing decisions to cut illustrations, a number of readers have been guilty of their own hasty stereotyping when glancing at the Kemble frontispiece. No evidence has been found that Mark Twain commented on the usage of "Roxy Harvesting Among the Kitchens" as a frontispiece for the Underwood or subsequent Harper editions. The ensuing controversy the illustration caused is one that he would likely have enjoyed.

Further discussion of Kemble's illustrations is available online at the University of Virginia website in an article titled "Illustrating Pudd'nhead."

Frank M. Senior, Illustrator

Frank M. Senior (b. 1849 - d. 1903) was a relatively obscure illustrator at the time he got the assignment from Frank Bliss for the majority of the illustrating work for the 1894 first edition of The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson and the Comedy Those Extraordinary Twins. Senior remains relatively unknown today with little historical evidence available to track his career. A search of the U.S. Censuses provides clues to his background. He was the son of a tinner named Thomas Senior, born in Scotland, and his wife Amanda, born in Connecticut. An article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on June 20, 1898 indicates Senior was a director of Cox Engraving Company of New York City. A death list in The New York Times published on April 17, 1903 listed him by name as dying on April 15 in Brooklyn without any additional details.

Senior contributed only one illustration for the 1899 uniform edition of Pudd'nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins. The full-page drawing served as a frontispiece for the section of the book titled "Those Extraordinary Twins." It is a revised version of his same illustration from the first edition.

Senior 1894
Senior's 1894 illustration
"I Thought I Would Write a Little Story"
Senior 1899
Senior's 1899 revised illustration
"I Thought I Would Write a Little Story"

Senior's revised illustration featured an actual photograph of Mark Twain in a white suit cut out and imposed over the original illustration to which Senior had extensive shading and detail.

Illustration List for Volume 14

The following are the original full-page illustrations that first appeared in the 1899 Autograph Edition, Edition De Luxe, Japan Edition, Author's De Luxe Edition, and the Royal Edition issued by American Publishing Company. As other editions were developed and prices were lowered, some of these illustrations were eliminated.




Brennan, Jonathan. Mixed Race Literature. (Stanford University Press, 2002).

"Brooklynites Interested," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 20 June 1898, p. 7.

"Charles Noel Flagg Dies Suddenly," The Hartford Courant, 11 November 1916, p. 8.

"Deaths Reported April 16," The New York Times, 17 April 1903, p. 9.

"Edward Windsor Kemble," Book Buyer, Volume 11, July 1894, pp. 293 - 296. Online via google books.

"E. W. Kemble Dies, Noted Pen Artist," The New York Times, 20 September 1933, p. 21.

Graduate School of Business Administration of Harvard University. (Cambridge, 1917). Online via google books.

Hill, Hamlin. Mark Twain's Letters to His Publishers, 1867 - 1894. (University of California Press, 1967).

Kemble, Edward Windsor to Frank Bliss, 16 May 1898. (Kevin Mac Donnell collection. Quoted in personal correspondence from Mac Donnell, 22 May 2004).

Osborn, Norris Galpin. Men of Mark in Connecticut. (William R. Goodspeed, 1906). Online from google books.

Rasmussen, R. Kent. Critical Companion to Mark Twain, Volumes I and II. (Facts on File, 2007).

Twain, Mark. The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson and the Comedy Those Extraordinary Twins. (Oxford University Press, 1996).

_____. The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson and the Comedy Those Extraordinary Twins. Sidney E. Berger, ed. A Norton Critical Edition. (W. W. Norton and Company, 1980).

Who Was Who In America, Vol. 2. (The A. N. Marquis Company, 1950).


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