Mark Twain Room - Past Display
Mark Twain the Celebrated Traveler settles in Buffalo
Was he really so Innocent?
The first of Mark Twain’s popular travel books, The Innocents Abroad, was exposing the itinerant author to a broader audience just as he married Olivia Langdon and settled in Buffalo in February 1870 to co-edit the Buffalo Express newspaper. The book chronicles Twain’s 163-day tour of Europe and the Holy Land aboard the ship Quaker City in 1867. Written as travel correspondence and printed in installments in the San Francisco newspaper, the Alta California, which sponsored the trip, the entire collection was re-edited and published in book form in July of 1869. It quickly became a runaway hit, selling over 70,000 copies in its first year of release. It would remain the best selling of all Twain’s books in his lifetime, and one of the best-selling travel books of all time. Presented here are various editions of the book, including the first printing, and excerpts from the major literary journals that published some of the earliest reviews.
Since it first appeared in 1884, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has inspired artists and book illustrators with its classic scenes of American life in the 19th century. Beginning with Edward Kemble, who drew the illustrations for the first edition of the work, artists have depicted the pastoral images of river life and the dark scenes of satire that distinguish Twain’s literary masterpiece. Prominent artist Norman Rockwell and printmaker/illustrator Barry Moser have some of their illustrations on permanent display in the Mark Twain Room. Other greats, like muralist Thomas Hart Benton, and beloved children’s book illustrator Steven Kellogg are presented here along with lesser known American artists and little known, but prolific, illustrators of the foreign language editions.
For many years Twain scholars and aficionados (affectionately known as “Twainiacs”) wondered what Mark Twain thought of censorship and book banning when it happened in his lifetime and speculated what he might think of its continuation since his death in 1910. It may well be that the answer to these burning questions is in the long-time unpublished piece Twain wrote in 1882 entitled “The Walt Whitman Controversy.” A facsimile of the manuscript of this piece generously provided by Robert Hirst of the Mark Twain Project (marktwainproject.org) of the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley is on display—as are significant editions of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Twain’s 1601, and the recently published Gribben [NewSouth] edition Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
Lest we forget, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) predates Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884, London ed.) and it is where Huck Finn had his beginnings as Tom’s friend. While the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library proudly houses the manuscript of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, George University Library keeps The Adventures of Tom Sawyer manuscript. The current exhibit pays tribute to Tom showcasing a facsimile of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer manuscript, a copy of the first American edition illustrated by True Williams, a copy of the earlier and un-illustrated first Canadian edition and select foreign language editions of the Twain novel.
In the early 1930s, the Buffalo Public Library (a predecessor of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library,) began to build a unique collection of special English and foreign language editions of the novel. Through the years, this collection has continued to grow. These remarkable items, currently numbering more than five hundred, fill the bookcases lining the walls of the Mark Twain Room at the Central Library.
Now featured in a new exhibition is a wide selection of Twain’s works acquired by the library during the past 80 years. The newest addition, and the centerpiece of this exhibit, is the 2008 Pie Tree Press The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, illustrated by renowned Canadian book artist Jim Rimmer. Also on display are several fine press publications of Twain’s writings, including multiple printings of his short and controversial Elizabethan skit, 1601.
April 24 to December 31, 2010
An exhibit of never-before-seen leaves of Mark Twain's handwritten manuscript, to commemorate the 125-year anniversary of the first American edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.