by Barbara Schmidt

A History of and Guide to

Gabriel Wells Definitive Edition
Volumes 30, 31, 32 and 33: Mark Twain: A Biography

History of Mark Twain: A Biography

Volumes 30, 31, 32, and 33 of the Gabriel Wells Definitive Edition is a four-volume set of Mark Twain: A Biography by Albert Bigelow Paine. Paine was Clemens's official biographer and later his literary executor. As such, Paine was the single most influential person in Mark Twain scholarship. Paine and Clemens first met in 1901. In December 1905 Paine attended Clemens's 70th birthday party hosted by Harper and Brothers. By January 1906 he had developed a relationship with Clemens that firmly establish his position within the Clemens household with complete access to Clemens's papers, business dealings and correspondence.

Paine's Mark Twain: A Biography was published by Harper and Brothers in 1912, two years after Clemens's death. Totaling almost 500,000 words, it was released in both 3-volume editions as well as 4-volume editions. The latter third of the biography includes Paine's personal account of Clemens's last years. By 1919 the four-volume set of Mark Twain: A Biography was being included as a bonus to buyers of the green cloth Harper and Brothers National Author's Edition and bound to match that set.

One of the criticisms of Paine's Biography is that it lacks source notes, fails to provide specific dates for many events, and that it never seriously challenges Clemens's positive public image. Each of the four volumes of Mark Twain: A Biography in the Gabriel Wells Definitive Edition contains four full pages of photographs -- the same photos had been used in the 1912 edition. Many of them give no credit to a photographer. Other graphics and illustrations appear throughout, often imbedded within the text.

Albert Bigelow Paine
Albert Bigelow Paine (b. 1861 - d. 1937) in a candid photo from Mark Twain's 70th birthday party, December 1905.

Illustration List for Volume 30

Illustration List for Volume 31

Illustration List for Volume 32

Illustration List for Volume 33

Full Text Online Availability Via Archive.Org
Volume 30
Volume 31
Volume 32
Volume 33




Rasmussen, R. Kent. Critical Companion to Mark Twain: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work, Volumes 1 and 2. (Facts on File, 2007).

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