Mark Twain Newspaper Stories Discovered

Samuel Langhorne Clemens September 1-2, 1867, Pera, Constantinople

Samuel Langhorne Clemens
September 1-2, 1867, Pera, Constantinople

From the Los Angeles Times, news of a cache of Mark Twain’s stories:

Scholars at UC Berkeley have tracked down 110 early newspaper columns written by Mark Twain that, up until now, had been considered lost. The Associated Press reports that the Mark Twain Project at Berkeley, which unearthed the columns, plans to publish them in a forthcoming book.

In 1865 and ’66, Twain wrote a six-day-a-week column about San Francisco for the Territorial Enterprise of Virginia City, Nev. Both cities were mining boom towns — Virginia City with silver, and San Francisco with gold — taking hold on the Western frontier. Twain’s column took the form of a “letter from San Francisco” about life there.

Twain, then 29, wrote humorously about miners, cops and corruption. It was early in his career, and the letters show him finding his voice.

“This is a very special period in his life, when he’s out here in San Francisco,” Bob Hirst, general editor of the Mark Twain Project, told the AP. “He’s utterly free, he’s not encumbered by a marriage or much of anything else, and he can speak his mind and does speak his mind. These things are wonderful to read, the ones that survived.”

Twain’s stories had been lost when the archives of the Territorial Enterprise were destroyed in a series of fires. Scholars at Berkeley combed through the archives of other Western papers searching for reprints of those columns, many of which were unsigned.

An article from The Guardian:

Here’s a direct link to the stories:

CFP: Wharton in Washington: A Conference Sponsored by the Edith Wharton Society (Deadline 7.15.15)

Originally posted on The Edith Wharton Society:

whartonpassportWharton in Washington:
A Conference Sponsored by the Edith Wharton Society
June 2016 (specific dates TBA)

Conference web site:

Please join the Edith Wharton Society for its upcoming Conference in Washington, DC. The conference directors seek papers focusing on all aspects of Wharton’s work. Papers might offer readings of any of Wharton’s texts, including the short fiction, poetry, plays, essays, travel writing, and other nonfiction, in addition to the novels.

While all topics are welcome, the location of the conference in the U. S. capital invites readings related to nationalism, cosmopolitanism, transatlanticism, seats of power, Americana, museum cultures in the 19th C, material cultures, and the work of preservation. Further, given the centennial years of World War I, papers offering new examinations of Wharton’s relationship to the war are particularly invited.

Proposals might also explore Wharton’s work in the context of such figures as Teddy Roosevelt and Henry Adams…

View original 144 more words

Test-yourself quiz on commonly confused words

Here’s a test-yourself quiz on commonly confused words:

The results are private, not sent to me; it’s just for fun.  You can find more quizzes and crossword puzzles here:

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 8.33.23 AMHere are some other resources:

Oxford Dictionaries has a handy list:

Found on Twitter today:

My retired colleague Professor Paul Brians has a site on Common Errors in English:

A test-yourself quiz on homonyms:

Did Edith Wharton meet Oscar Wilde during his 1882 American tour? A continuing literary mystery.’ve been listening to David M. Friedman’s Oscar Wilde in America. In his early days in New York, Wilde gave lectures and appeared at (I’m tempted to say “posed at”) innumerable society parties. Friedman mentions at least two appearances that Wilde made at parties given by Mrs. Paran Stevens.

Now, Mrs. Paran Stevens rings a bell with all Whartonites for several reasons. According to Hermione Lee, Mrs. Stevens, “a grocer’s daughter,” was born Marietta Reed in  Lowell, Massachusetts. She ‘forced herself’ Emelyn Washburn remembered) ‘into New York society by way of Newport” (61).

Edith Wharton’s great-aunt, Mrs. Mary Mason Jones, refused to receive the pushy arriviste Mrs. Stevens, but Mrs. Stevens had nearly the last laugh: After Mary Mason Jones’s death, Mrs. Stevens bought her house, the house that she had not entered during Mrs. Jones’s lifetime.

Wharton herself had the real last laugh. She immortalized Mrs. Stevens as  Mrs. Lemuel Struthers in The Age of Innocence, whose parties, held on Sundays, scandalize Old New York but attract the more cosmopolitan Ellen Olenska.


But there is a closer connection: Mrs. Stevens was nearly Edith Wharton’s mother-in-law. Lee reports that “the engagement between Edith Jones and Henry Leyden Stevens was announced in Town Topics, on 19 August 1882, with a wedding set for October.  In October, however, the engagement was publicly broken off” (61).  Edith Jones, later Wharton, supposedly broke off the engagement, although insiders claimed that Mrs. Stevens wanted to keep control of all her son’s millions and forced him to break the engagement.  Henry was 23 in 1882, and the money was in his mother’s control until he married or reached the age of 25. Henry Stevens died without having married in 1885, the year that Edith married Edward (Teddy) Wharton.

What of Wilde and the 1882 tour?  Could Edith Wharton have met, or rather seen, Oscar Wilde?


First, since the announcement of Edith’s engagement came in August 1882, she and Henry must have been seeing each other for some time. Shari Benstock, in No Gifts from Chance, dates their relationship to the Joneses’ residence in Venice in 1881, with Harry following Edith to Cannes during her father’s last illness (44).  Henry, or “Harry,”  was Edith’s “shadow,” according to her relatives, and devoted to her. And although the stiff-necked Joneses and Rhinelanders, Edith’s relations, did not accept Mrs. Stevens, it’s hard to believe that over the course of their relationship Edith would not have visited Henry’s home.

Thus she could have attended one of Mrs. Stevens’s more literary soirees, especially to meet a celebrated character like Wilde. Wilde’s literary credentials were slim at this point, but his fame as an apostle of the Aesthetic movement was phenomenal. Edith Jones, though unknown, was already a published poet with alarmingly intellectual interests. (Her intellectual interests were, Town Topics speculated, the reason for the broken engagement.) The newspapers were full of Wilde’s visit–and her fiancee’s mother hosted at least two entertainments with Wilde as a featured guest, which a young engaged woman like Edith might have attended with her fiancee.

If she met Oscar Wilde at this time, Edith Wharton seems to have left no record of it, unlike her long friendship with Henry James and other literary figures.

So did she meet or see him in 1882?  What’s your guess?