In his person and in his pursuits, Mark Twain (1835-1910) was a man of extraordinary contrasts. Although he left school at twelve, when his father died, he was eventually awarded honorary degrees from Yale University, the University of Missouri, and Oxford University. His career encompassed such varied occupations as printer, Mississippi riverboat pilot, journalist, travel writer, and publisher. He made fortunes from his writing, but toward the end of his life he had to resort to lecture tours to pay his debts. He was hot-tempered, profane, and sentimental?and also pessimistic, cynical, and tortured by self-doubt. His nostalgia for the past helped produce some of his best books. He lives in American letters as a great artist, the writer whom William Dean Howells called ?the Lincoln of our literature.”
Leland Krauth is a professor of English at the University of Colorado at Boulder. A specialist in American literature, he has published numerous articles on American writers, as well as two books on Mark Twain: Proper Mark Twain and Mark Twain & Company: Six Literary Relations.
Edmund Reiss has written extensively on literature and the history of ideas from the sixth century to the nineteenth century. His books include studies of Boethius, Arthurian legend and literature, medieval lyrical poetry, and editions of Mark Twain. Formerly professor of English at Duke University, as well as Brooks Professor at the University of Queensland, he is retired on his farm in Durham, North Carolina.