The Bancroft Library’s Mark Twain Papers & Project is the world’s center for the author’s
memory. It contains thousands of original letters, along with copies of everything else Twain
known to have written.
Scholars estimate that Twain wrote at least 50,000 letters in his lifetime. Editors find new
“The letters and notebooks and autobiography, all of those things are evidence of what he’s
and feeling and doing throughout a long and very busy life,” says Bob Hirst, general editor of
Mark Twain project.
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Bob Hirst, general editor of the Mark Twain Papers &
The Bancroft Library, discusses Twain’s life during an interview. Hirst has
with the collection for nearly 50 years, starting as a graduate student at
Trunks belonging to the Clemens family are among the
memorabilia stored at the project’s headquarters.
Hirst tells a funny story about Twain and his mounting celebrity.
Books, research, and correspondence fill Hirst’s
A letter from Charles Dickens’ son to Twain is dated
5, 1887. Twain admired the English author and in an 1868 article lauded the
but exquisitely adjusted machinery” within Dickens’ “queer old head.”
Thousands of letters sent to and from Twain are
preserved in the library.
A bust of Twain sits in the project’s lobby.
Early editions of Twain’s novels line the shelves of
in the library.