Background of Mark Twain's Letters
Volumes 34 and 35 of the Gabriel Wells Definitive Edition are two volumes of Mark Twain's Letters edited by Albert Bigelow Paine, Clemens's official biographer and later his literary executor. 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.
|In 1917 Paine selected and edited two volumes of Clemens's letters. The set contains 450 letters. Although Paine implied the volumes were a "reasonably complete" collection, the books contain only about 5 percent of Clemens's known correspondence. Paine's edition of Mark Twain's Letters was copyrighted on November 10, 1917 and Harper and Brothers published the first edition which was limited to 350 sets. Subsequent printings followed which were bound in Harper's red cloth and gold cornstalk bindings as well as bindings similar to Paine's four-volume edition of Mark Twain: A Biography issued in 1912.||
Albert Bigelow Paine (b. 1861 - d. 1937) in a candid photo from Mark Twain's 70th birthday party, December 1905.
The 1917 edition of Mark Twain's Letters contains an abundance of rare photographs, some of which have rarely, if ever, been republished. The Gabriel Wells Definitive Edition of Mark Twain's Letters does not contain the same assortment of these photographs. Scholars wishing to study these photographs, which were likely selected for publication by Paine himself, will need to consult both the 1917 edition as well as the Gabriel Wells edition.
Illustration List for Volume 34
Also included are six pages containing facsimiles of Mark Twain's letters and other drawings which were also published in the 1917 edition but do not appear in the above illustration list.
Illustration List for Volume 35
Also included are five pages containing facsimiles of Mark Twain's letters and other drawings which were also published in the 1917 edition but do not appear in the above illustration list.
Johnson, Merle. A Bibliography of the Works of Mark Twain. (Harper and Brothers, 1935).
Rasmussen, R. Kent. Critical Companion to Mark Twain: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work, Volumes 1 and 2. (Facts on File, 2007).