Ten Things You Might Not Know About Mark Twain

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 28, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, American Literature, Mark Twain

Beloved for his humor and storytelling prowess, Mark Twain is one of America’s most famous literary figures. Ernest Hemingway summed it up best when he declared, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called ‘Huckleberry Finn.’ All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since." 

Listed below are ten facts about Mark Twain, including some of the lesser known facets of his fascinating life and legacy.

     
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The Pilgrim Press: From Illegal Printing to Thanksgiving

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 27, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Printmaking, History

When I say “pilgrims,” what comes to mind? With Thanksgiving upon us, maybe you’d mention the holiday itself, or turkey and stuffing. Perhaps you would conjure up images of the Mayflower and Plymouth Rock. Maybe some of you would associate the term with a religious sect.

While our understanding of the Pilgrims has been greatly shaped by the legend of Thanksgiving Day and our present customs surrounding the holiday, little attention is given to the real lives of the Pilgrims. They were a people displaced from their homeland for religious views, and as a result of their counter-cultural lifestyle, they faced a harsh reality. But they were steadfast in their beliefs, so much so that they even operated an illegal printing press in order to disseminate their ideas.

     
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Libraries and Special Collections: Treasures at Your Local Library

By Katie Behrens. Nov 25, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Libraries

Recently, the Cleveland Public Library unearthed a first edition copy of Charles Dickens’ holiday novella, A Christmas Carol that they didn’t even know they had.  The librarian was putting together a display of Christmas books, and when she pulled A Christmas Carol off the shelf, she realized it was, in fact, the original printing. 

     
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Collecting Modern First Editions: An Interview with Siep Kuijpers

By Andrea Koczela. Nov 24, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, First Editions

Since childhood, Siep Kuijpers has been passionate about book collecting. He lives in the Netherlands and has been a teacher and book collector for over forty years. Acquiring limited edition books by his favorite authors is one of his most cherished pursuits. The horror, fantasy, and science fiction genres are his first literary loves, but he is also interested in unique graphic novels. Siep has graciously shared his collecting experiences with us in the following interview.

     
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How Elizabeth Gaskell Saved Charlotte Brontë's Reputation

By Andrea Koczela. Nov 22, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

"I desired more... Who blames me? Many call me discontented. I couldn't help it, the restlessness is in my nature; it agitated me to pain sometimes.”
- Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Bearing more than a few parallels to her heroine, Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë was born poor, obscure, and plain. Despite leading a life filled with hardship and tragedy, Brontë became a successful novelist in her thirties. Yet while she received popular acclaim, Brontë also faced scathing reviews and harsh personal criticism. 

Brontë's 1847 novel, Jane Eyre, earned the ire of critics for its frank depiction of passion in a woman - a governess, no less. Brontë was maligned as "unwomanly" and "unchristian." Poet Matthew Arnold wrote, "Miss Brontë has written a hideous, undelightful, convulsed, constricted novel... one of the most utterly disagreeable books I've ever read." The Quarterly Review asserted that Jane Eyre revealed "tone of mind and thought which has overthrown authority and violated every code human and divine." The novel had its share of defenders as well, not the least of which was fellow novelist Elizabeth Gaskell. 

     
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Mark Twain, Prankster Journalist

By Kristin Masters. Nov 21, 2014. 9:56 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, American Literature, Mark Twain

 

"Get the facts first. Then you can distort them as much as you like." 
-Dan DeQuille, reporter, Territorial Enterprise, ca 1862

 

Before he would pen Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer or even adopt the pseudonym "Mark Twain," Samuel Clemens tried his hand at mining. He had little luck, however, and soon turned to journalism to make a living. Clemens got hired as a reporter for the Territorial Enterprise, the largest newspaper in Virginia City, Nevada. Though Clemens did some honest reporting, he also earned a reputation for publishing pranks and hoaxes--often under his new pen name. 

     
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The Kennedy Assassination: Conspiracy Theories & the Warren Commission

By Anne Cullison. Nov 20, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, US Presidents

On November 22nd, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dealey Plaza in Houston, Texas. This tragedy is forever seared into the country's consciousness. But what really happened?

In anticipation of the 1964 election, President Kennedy began visiting swing states to woo supporters for his reelection campaign. On November 21, he and Mrs. Kennedy commenced a two day, five city tour of Texas. Texas was an important state for Kennedy, and as such he planned a trip to Dallas, even though US Ambassador Adlai Stevenson had been attacked there by political extremists only a month before.

     
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Isaac Bashevis Singer, Tireless Author and Indefatigable Self-Promoter

By Kristin Masters. Nov 19, 2014. 9:00 AM.

One of the best known authors of the twentieth century, Isaac Bashevis Singer won literary accolades all over the world, including that most illustrious of awards, the Nobel Prize in Literature. The 1978 Nobel laureate wrote primarily in Yiddish, yet the majority of his published works are in English--a fact that makes Singer all the more fascinating to both scholars and collectors. 

     
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Songs for the Philologists: The Ultimate Tolkien Collectible

By Andrea Koczela. Nov 18, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Book Collecting, J. R. R. Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien is known as the “father of high fantasy” yet the resonance of his work cannot be limited to one genre. Tolkien’s novels, particularly The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955), were much more than tales of elves and dragons. Tolkien believed that all myths contain “fundamental truths” that speak deeply to the human condition. His novels are imbued with such primordial themes and they have forever changed the face of literature.

Tolkien’s followers are notoriously zealous, and the same is true for those who collect his work. Tolkien’s writing is sought by book collectors both for the passion it inspires and for its increasing relevance. Of all his publications, one is exceptionally rare - indeed, only an estimated fourteen copies remain in existence. Eight reside in libraries across the world, and the other six are owned privately. With its exceptional scarcity, the pamphlet Songs for the Philologists is the pinnacle of a Tolkien collection.  

     
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How Apartheid Shaped Nobel Laureate, Nadine Gordimer

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 17, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Nobel Prize Winners

Nadine Gordimer, the great Nobel Laureate who passed away in July 2014, is a fascinating study. A close analysis of her writing - but even more specifically, the way in which her writing coalesced with the politics of South Africa - provides an interesting commentary on how authors both influence and are influenced by their culture.

It is no secret that Gordimer spent much of her life fighting for the anti-apartheid cause. In fact, in a statement after her death, Gordimer's family noted that one of her proudest moments - along with winning the Nobel Prize - was playing a key role in the release of 22 African National Congress members accused of treason. 

     
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About this blog

How can I identify a first edition? Where do I learn about caring for books? How should I start collecting? Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you'll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

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