As a prolific author, professional speaker, storyteller, humorist, and publisher, Mark Twain displayed his brash genius as a social, political, and literary critic. With humor, irony, and satire, he focused his "pen warmed up in hell" on the society of his times and on the nature of man. His themes reflected the turmoil of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as he involved himself in contemporary issues such as education and social reforms, the aristocracy, religion, prejudice, imperialism, copyright, and the effects of technology on humanity.
While students and scholars continue to debate his impact and legacy, Twain's name and image, the charcters and stories he created, and his views of his era continue in our popular culture today. He was among the foremost figures in American history. The posthumous publication of his fiction, letters, speeches, and essays outnumber those of his lifetime. The universality and durability of his appeal are evidenced by the continuing reprints of his books in an array of languages and by the many adaptations of his works for film and the stage.
The first editions and international editions of Twain's works, his letters, manuscripts, photographs, and memorabilia were selected for this exhibition from a number of collections in celebration of Twain's unique contributions and his status as the first American author who achieved international recognition. These items present a profile of the very complex man named Samuel Clemens and a snapshot of the era he so aptly named "The Gilded Age."
Learn more and see highlights from the exhibition in the catalog below.