Monthly Archives: November 2017

Happy Birthday, Mark Twain

Mark Twain’s 182nd birthday is coming up on November 30th and we are celebrating by highlighting the Press’s recent publications on the great writer from Missouri.


Scharnhorst coverTHE LIFE OF MARK TWAIN
The Early Years, 1835–1871
Gary Scharnhorst
March | Hardcover | 978-0-8262-2144-5 | $36.95 T | 724 pp. 25 illus.

“Gary Scharnhorst’s monumental biography sets a new standard for comprehensiveness. This will prove to be the standard biography for our generation.”—Alan Gribben, author of Mark Twain’s Literary Resources: A Reconstruction of His Library and Reading

“Clear and engaging, Scharnhorst’s prose keeps you rolling happily through this consummate American adventure.”—Bruce Michelson, author of Printer’s Devil: Mark Twain and the American Publishing Revolution

Over three volumes, Gary Scharnhorst elucidates the life of arguably the greatest American writer and reveals the alchemy of his gifted imagination. This is the first multi-volume biography of Samuel Clemens to appear in over a century. All Clemens biographers since then have either tailored their narratives to fit a single volume or focused on a particular aspect of Clemens’s life; this new, comprehensive biography is plotted from beginning to end. The first volume follows Clemens from his childhood in Missouri to his work in printshops, his career as a Mississippi River pilot, his writing stint in Nevada, and his trip to Europe and the Holy Land, and ends with his move east to Buffalo, New York.

With dozens of Twain biographies available, what is left unsaid? On average, a hundred Clemens letters and a couple of his interviews surface every year. Scharnhorst has located numerous documents, including some which have been presumed lost, relevant to Clemens’s life.

Gary Scharnhorst is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English at the University of New Mexico. He is the author or editor of fifty books, including Mark Twain on Potholes and Politics: Letters to the Editor. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Peter G. Beidler
JANUARY | Hardcover | 978-0-8262-2138-4 | $40.00 S
212 pp. | 57 illus. | 6 x 9

“Dr. Beidler’s critiques of inaccurate literary analyses and book illustrations will be of real value to historians and archaeologists with an interest in the navigation and trade on the western rivers, as well as to professionals in the field of American literature, and especially to all readers who want to know about the river world of Huck Finn.”—Kevin Crisman, author of The Eagle: An American Brig on Lake Champlain during the War of 1812

The raft that carries Huck and Jim down the Mississippi River is often seen as a symbol of adventure and freedom, but the physical specifics of the raft itself are rarely considered. Peter Beidler shows that understanding the material world of Huckleberry Finn, its limitations and possibilities, is vital to truly understanding Mark Twain’s novel. He illustrates how experts on Twain’s works have misinterpreted important aspects of the story due to their unfamiliarity with the various rivercraft that figure in the book.

Huck and Jim’s little raft is not made of logs, as it is often depicted in illustrations, but of sawn planks, and it was originally part of a much larger raft. Beidler explains why this matters and describes the other rivercraft that appear in the book. He gives what will almost certainly be the last word on the vexed question of whether the lengthy “raft episode,” removed at the publisher’s suggestion from the novel, should be restored to its original place.

Peter G. Beidler is the Lucy G. Moses Distinguished Professor of English, Emeritus, at Lehigh University and has written many books, including A Reader’s Guide to the Novels of Louise Erdrich. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

Recently available:

Harrington Jenn coverMARK TWAIN AND FRANCE
The Making of a New American Identity
Paula Harrington and Ronald Jenn
Hardcover | 978-0-8262-2119-3 | 50.00 S | 248 pp.
12 photos | 6 x 9

“Alternately takes up panoramic historical and cultural vistas and carefully analyzes passages from all sorts of text with judgment and a sense of proportion.”—Tom Quirk, University of Missouri, author of Mark Twain and Human Nature

“The authors work seamlessly back and forth between historical data, biographical detail, and attention to multiple works by Twain that illuminate his complex relationship to the French and to France.”—Linda A. Morris, University of California, author of Gender Play in Mark Twain

While critics have generally dismissed Mark Twain’s relationship with France as hostile, Harrington and Jenn see Twain’s use of the French as a foil to help construct his identity as “the representative American.” Examining new materials that detail his Montmatre study, the carte de visite album, and a chronology of his visits to France, the book offers close readings of writings that have been largely ignored, such as The Innocents Adrift manuscript and the unpublished chapters of A Tramp Abroad, combining literary analysis, socio-historical context and biographical research.

Paula Harrington is director of the Farnham Writers’ Center and an assistant professor of writing at Colby College. In 2013, she was a Fulbright Scholar in Paris, doing research that led to her collaboration with Jenn on this book. She lives in Portland, Maine. Ronald Jenn is a professor at Université de Lille, France. He is the author of La Pseudo-traduction, de Cervantès à Mark Twain. He lives in Lille, France.

Tracy Wuster
Hardcover | 978-0-8262-2056-1 | $60.00 S

“What makes this book a fresh and welcome addition to Mark Twain criticism is its focus on particular aspects of cultural production: periodicals, the lyceum circuit, after-dinner speeches, subscription publishing, and the book mock-ups prepared for the canvassers. Wuster is particularly good at bringing us in close for an inspection of the machinery of cultural judgement in periodicals, reviews of authors and their comic writing, as well as reviews of performance on the lecture circuit.”—James Caron, author of Mark Twain, Unsanctified Newspaper Reporter

Letters to the Editor
Edited by Gary Scharnhorst
Hardcover | 978-0-8262-2046-2 | $35.00 S

“As aggressive a moralist and critic as Twain seems in hi more conventional fiction, here Twain is assertive, fantastically comic, lawlessly imaginative—unruly, strident, and irascible. This raw newspaper journalism is central to understanding the writing style fo ‘Mark Twain’ as it had to be adjusted by editors like Bret Harte, William Dean Howells, and Livy Clemens for his work to rise to universal stature as art. More important, the journalism is central to understanding the pragmatic, human-centered ideology that drives Twains’ work.”—Choice

To browse our entire collection of Mark Twain titles, see our Mark Twain and His Circle series, edited by Tom Quirk and John Bird. This series incorporates books on Mark Twain and the several circles he inhabited (domestic, political, artistic, and other) to provide a venue for new research in Twain studies and, from time to time, to reprint significant studies that have been too long out of print.

The Lanford Wilson Collection at MU Libraries Special Collections and Rare Books

By David Crespy

Lanford at Wire Fence

A young Lanford Wilson

Lanford Wilson: Early Stories, Sketches, and Poetry would have never existed without the talents of Michael Holland, Head of the Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books Division at the University of Missouri’s Ellis Library, and Anselm Huelsbergen, Technical Services Archivist, who created the Lanford Wilson Collection from the massive bequest of the Lanford Wilson estate, which had been quickly boxed and sent to the University of Missouri, with little or no time to organize the files. Essentially the materials arrived shrink-wrapped on a shipping pallet, and it took many months of careful consideration of archival provenance and organization to put

Michael Holland

Librarian Michael Holland

together a collection that consists of 53 linear feet of manuscripts and approximately 100 books.  I remember working with Mike and Anselm to determine exactly how each script was actually used—either for publication or production, or for what level of production – on or off-Broadway, in rehearsal, and determining some dating on undated materials.  Physical materials ranged from t-shirts, eyeglasses, x-rays, awards, along with correspondence, photographs, programs, posters, and contracts.

They were assisted in their efforts to determine

Lanford and Marshall

Lanford Wilson and director, Marshall Mason

the identity of people in photographs by Marshall W. Mason, the Tony Award-winning director of Lanford Wilson’s works, and by Daniel Irvine, Marshall’s husband, and former director of Circle Repertory Theatre Lab.  It was a daunting task.  It should be noted that Mike and Anselm mostly deal with university archive materials, and that this was the first theatre archive collection created at the University of Missouri, and the work they did was comparable to collections available at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.  The Lanford Wilson Collection is incredibly accessible, and a finding aid can be read at

Additionally, Kelli Hansen, Print Collections Librarian at Special Collections and Rare

Kelli Hansen

Librarian Kelli Hansen

Books, provided ongoing support and access to the resources of the Wilson Collection, retrieving a seemingly endless array of boxes, files, and folders as we worked our way through many different manuscript iterations.  Ms. Hansen worked closely with me as I attempted to make sense of what is available in the collection, finding and retrieving materials, explaining certain restrictions, and making it possible for me to determine the full extent of the collection’s importance in the field of theatre research.

Ms. Hansen also assisted me in research for productions of Lanford Wilson’s plays, Fifth of July, which was produced in Fall 2013 in MU’s Rhynsburger Theater (and received several Certificates of Merit from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival), and for Rimers of Eldritch, which will take place in Spring 2018.

LW manuscript page


However, what was particularly dazzling, was Ms. Hansen amazing facilitation of my archival research course, “Digging Lanford Wilson: An Archival Approach to Drama.”  For the course, Ms. Hansen and I met to organize the specific aspects of creating an new archive that would provide students insights into concepts such as provenance and original order, finding aids, working with fragile materials, etc.  Ms. Hansen then created what I can only describe as a spectacular website which provided glossaries of archival terms, guidelines to working in archives, resources on finding aids and archival research, citation techniques and style guides, research strategies, and a gateway site into the Lanford Wilson Collection itself.  During the course, Ms. Hansen led the initial few sessions, introducing the students to the materials and how to find items, explaining how to work with photos and other non-manuscript materials, explaining techniques on reading Wilson’s particularly challenging handwriting, and explaining the world of archival

Lanford with car

Lanford Wilson in Missouri

research in general.  I simply would not have been able to take on a course like this without Kelli’s amazing ability to carefully and systematically touch all the bases of archival research with such clarity and depth of knowledge.  This course has been repeated this Fall 2017, and once again I am delighted to have her assistance in helping guide students in their first experience in archival research.

I am deeply grateful for all the work that has been provided by the librarians of the University of Missouri in creating the Lanford Wilson Collection – which is a jewel in the crown of MU Library’s archival resources.

9780826221339LANFORD WILSON
Early Stories, Sketches, and Poems
Edited by David Crespy
$45.00 • Hardcover • 978-0-8262-2133-9 • 288 pp. • 7 illus. • 6 x 9

This post is part of University Press Week 2017. Please visit our colleagues’ blogs:

University of Nebraska Press: a post by Pat Leach, director of Lincoln City Libraries.

University Press of Florida: a spotlight on the Florida and the Caribbean Open Books Series, a collaboration between the University of Florida Press and the UF George A. Smathers Libraries.

University of Georgia Press: a post on how libraries serve as a bastion of facts and real information against the onslaught of Fake News.

University of Alabama Press: a conversation with Tom Wilson, Associate Dean for Branch Libraries and at University of Alabama.