Submitted by scott on Sat, 10/22/2022 - 11:52


This four volume work could not have been achieved if it wasn’t for the assistance and
encouragement of the following esteemed personages, some now departed:

Thomas A. Tenney
Louis J. Budd
Victor Fischer and Robert Hirst of the Mark Twain Project
Mark Woodhouse of Elmira College
JoDee Benussi
Holger Kersten
Kevin Mac Donnell
Robert Slotta
Many other friends, scholars, readers and family have encouraged me in countless ways. If I’ve
forgotten any, it doesn’t mean they are forgetful.
Dedicated To
Thomas A. Tenny

Scholar, editor, friend who made this work possible.

This volume completes his vision.

What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his
head, and is known to none but himself. All day long, and every day, the mill of his brain
is grinding, and his thoughts, not those other things, are his history. His acts and his
words are merely the visible, thin crust of his world, with its scattered snow summits and
its vacant wastes of water — and they are so trifling a part of his bulk! a mere skin
enveloping it. The mass of him is hidden — it and its volcanic fires that toss and boil, and
never rest, night nor day. These are his life, and they are not written, and cannot be
written. Every day would make a whole book of eighty thousand words — three hundred
and sixty-five books a year. Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man — the
biography of the man himself cannot be written.


“David H. Fears’s log of Samuel Clemens’ life is often downright interesting in itself for
Twainians. Furthermore, they will get a heightened sense of the whirligig he somehow shaped
into an ongoing presence—his now well-known business activities, his tireless socializing, his
dealings with plumbers, and his paying bills for groceries (including pilsener beer and cigars,
of course). As for Mark Twain authors, Fears will help resolve some cruxes while setting up
others unsuspected until now. I’m envious that my generation didn’t have this resource when
we were starting out.” – LOUIS J. BUDD – Professor Emeritus at Duke University, author of
Mark Twain: Social Philosopher

“More fascinating and far better documented than any existing biography of Mark Twain, this
study provides a window into every waking—and for that matter, sleeping—moment of
Twain’s hyperactive life. Many scholars before David Fears had contemplated undertaking this
staggeringly daunting but incredibly useful project….All students of Mark Twain should give
heartfelt thanks for this masterful accomplishment. Fears interweaves even Twain’s most
quotidian activities into a textured fabric, threading helpful explanations where needed. This
book now qualifies as the single most essential reference work in Mark Twain scholarship. We
will be indebted to David Fears forever.” – ALAN GRIBBEN – Author of Mark Twain’s
Library: A Reconstruction

“Mr. Fears must be fearless! To undertake such an immense project certainly requires courage.
Going day-by-day in Twain’s life gives valuable information regarding Twain’s multi-faceted
literary, business, and speculative career. Despite the short length of the quotations the flavor of
Twain is there: his attention to household matters, his caring role as husband and father, his
experience with publishers, the wide-ranging friendships and his biting wit. Fears’ volumes
will be a major contribution to Mark Twain Studies.” ­– HOWARD G. BAETZHOLD – Author
of Mark Twain & John Bull

“In these pages there is a rich record of the life, works, and Twain’s family and friends.” –
THOMAS A. TENNEY, author of Mark Twain A Reference Guide; editor of The Mark Twain


When reaching the end of a long journey, there is opportunity to reflect upon the ground
covered. I know the comprehensiveness and approach to this work has evolved since I began in
2005 (actually it began in 1971 with the discovery that Clemens came through my hometown,
Portland, Oregon, in 1895). That’s life—just when we get wise it’s time to check out. When our
great jobs are finished, we are the most capable of producing them.

This final volume is greatly informed by the generous use of Isabel V. Lyon’s journal entries
(variously called “journals,” “daily reminders,” and “datebooks” herein called simply “journal”
entries), which have never been substantially published but which hold a wealth of detail and
observation on Clemens’ life. Hill used a few excerpts, as did Trombley and a few other
historians, but nearly all of her entries from 1905-1908 are now in this volume. As a primary
source Lyon’s journals are rich in persons, places, episodes and details relating to Mark Twain,
and they provide us with an indispensable peek into his daily life for these last years, years
which were amazingly full. The MTP graciously allowed me copies of the newer transcriptions
(page numbers are thus different than the excerpts which Gribben used in his seminal work),
not to mention access to many letters, notes and sources. This volume alone should dispel the
image of a bitter Twain sitting alone with little going on in his life during his last years. If
anything, after the death of Livy, Twain’s life became fuller, his circle of contacts broadened,
and his interest in life expanded. Certainly his uncensored opinions flourished. Stormfield
became his country sanctuary and also his “hotel” for numerous guests, gatherings (“Doe
luncheons,” etc.) and of course for his “Aquarium” of young ladies.

It should be noted that Lyon struck out many short passages and a few longer ones that now
seem either excessive in their praise of Twain, or that reveal her personal struggles. There are
also a few emendations with dates as late as 1938. These are the result of plans to publish some
sort of work, plans that never reached fruition. When the strikeout reveals opinion or other
important information, they are included; when a simple edit of word choice without
connotation, they are omitted. It cannot be determined just when the edits were applied. She
also wrote and later struck out passages such as that of June 28, 1906 about various persons
(this referred to about Albert Bigelow Paine, which shows a definite change of opinion at a
later time). Lyon also disposed of the 1909 journal, and may have also selectively removed
others, clearly concerned about how she would be regarded. Today she remains a controversial
figure in Clemens’ life. The reader can find judgment coming down on either side of the
saint/devil Lyon-Ashcroft-Clara Clemens-Twain dustups. In this regard, as in most others, it is
not my purpose to take editorial position, but to present the primary and secondary opinions for
researchers and others to use in formulating their understanding. In each case—Clemens
included—we are dealing with human beings, fragile at times and strong at others. I will leave
the judgments to biographers who glory in that sort of work. There is enough material for any
biographer or scholar to pick and choose in arguing any case. Biographers, I might add, have
the luxury of picking and choosing what material to include. This work has included the
mundane, the trivial with the significant. Who knows, after all, just what details will prove
significant to some researcher from the twenty-third century?

As this last volume goes to press, I am encouraged by the interest and purchase by top
American Universities and scholars. I am content in knowing this reference work will stand at
least as long as any other work on Twain, and hopefully, will be more helpful.

A second edition of Vol. I (1835-1885) is needed, since so much additional material has been
found even beyond that of the addenda items online, and since the incoming letters were not
examined for that volume. I quickly learned that incomings are critical to understanding
Twain’s replies (most of his letters are replies), and so did examine all available incomings for
subsequent volumes. But if that edition is never completed then perhaps some young researcher
will follow me and get the job done. I am young only in my driving habits and my smart
mouth. The rest is eroding.

Much information lies beyond the scope of this work: most letters outside the immediate
family, or further biographical information on hundreds of Twain’s contacts. Each one has a
story to tell, though many are hidden and defy research efforts. There are literally hundreds of
these letters in the MTP files. For example, many survive from Pamela Moffett to her son Samuel E. Moffett. There are also other letters from and to persons outside the immediate
Clemens family that might shed light on some aspects of Twain’s life.
Inevitably there are errors in these volumes. How could there not be? But every effort was
made to lay down an accurate historical daily record, something I’ve only seen done for one
other famous American, Herman Melville, and that a bit cryptic.

I hope to continue putting items up in addenda for all four volumes online:

You may look there for additions, corrections and further comments.

David H Fears 2012-2013

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