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Foreword

In 1853, at the age of seventeen, Samuel Langhorne Clemens left his home in Hannibal, Missouri, for his first extended trip. Over the next fifty-seven years he crisscrossed the globe, at first working as an itinerant typesetter in several major eastern cities, then as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River, and later as a prospector and newspaper reporter on the American frontier, where he first used the pseudonym "Mark Twain." He made one-night lecture stops at hundreds of small towns, settled down for months in hotels and rented villas in England and Europe, escaped life's hurly-burly on tropical isles, and basked in society's limelight in many of the world's great cities. He visited five continents, steamed across the Atlantic twenty-nine times, and crossed the Pacific and Indian oceans as part of one complete round-the-world circuit.

With the astonishing success of his first travel book, The Innocents Abroad, Clemens realized that his experiences and insights as a traveler could be transformed into lucrative publications. A number of his trips were undertaken with a book or a series of articles in mind, or to secure international copyright. In the 1890s he was driven to Europe—and then around the world—by heavy financial burdens and in search of health for his family and himself. Travel was not only an escape and a refreshment, it was sometimes—for literary or personal reasons—a necessity.

Occasionally, and uncharacteristically, Clemens claimed to weary of his wanderings. "The truth is, there are no sights for me," he wrote to his wife from England in 1872, "I have seen them all before, in other places. . . . Consequently I do just as little sightseeing as possible, but try to see as many people as I can." Nineteen years (and several trips) later he professed even greater disenchantment: "I have seen all the foreign countries I want to see except heaven & hell," he wrote in May 1891, "& I have only a vague curiosity as concerns one of those." But these were only passing moods. Inevitably, he would embark on another trip, the burden of his home cares would lift, and his appetite for fresh sights and new acquaintances would revive. To the end of his life, he expressed his high delight and interest in what he saw. The English countryside was "too absolutely beautiful to be left out doors"; the sunsets in Sweden were the most beautiful "this side of heaven"; as he traveled across India he found the natives to be "the most interesting people in the world."

Of course, not all places, or all peoples, were a source of pleasure. Some of Clemens's remarks are cranky and intemperate. "Drat this stupid 'yodling,' " he fumed in his 1878 Swiss notebook. And his intransigent Francophobia went well beyond crankiness. For the most part, however, his sympathy and understanding, as well as his habit of observation and analysis, were deepened by his experiences abroad. In his lifetime, Clemens became—as he put it—"the most conspicuous person on the planet," whose works were translated into many languages and read throughout the world. Over time, this representative American humorist transformed himself into an international figure, a champion of human rights whose opinions powerfully influenced public sentiment, and a citizen of the world.

Clemens's lifelong habit of travel left both literary and documentary remains: correspondence with people throughout the world, notebooks, lecture texts, hotel bills, invitations, newspaper clippings, mementos, photographs both posed and candid, and unpublished manuscripts, as well as the familiar travel books and articles. The Mark Twain Papers of The Bancroft Library, a collection whose core consists of the thousands of manuscripts Clemens himself kept to the end of his life, is the repository for the overwhelming majority of these remains.

For this exhibition, the three curators have spent many hours happily winnowing through this incomparable archive. We have attempted to balance the well-known travel writings with less familiar items, to reflect the range of Clemens's attitudes and activities. It would have been impossible to touch upon all the places that he visited or to represent everything he wrote about them, but we have roughly followed the chronology of his travels, from his earliest trips in America to his final visit to Bermuda in 1910.

We are indebted to Charles Faulhaber, James D. Hart Director of The Bancroft Library, and to Robert H. Hirst, General Editor of the Mark Twain Project, for their support of this exhibition. We owe thanks to Anthony S. Bliss, curator of Rare Books and Literary Manuscripts, and Bonnie Hardwick, curator of the Bancroft Collection, for their advice and interest, as well as to Bonnie L. Bearden and Dean Smith of the Bancroft Library staff, and to Kenneth M. Sanderson, Anh Bui, David Carson, and Louis Suarez-Potts of the Mark Twain Project. The job of carefully scanning the items illustrated in this catalog was ably accomplished by Rosalie Lack, Kirk Hastings, and Merrilee Proffitt, who also designed the on-line version of the exhibition. We are indebted to Daniel L. Johnston of the Library Photographic Service for providing new prints of old photographs. And, finally, we are grateful to Mary Scott of the Library Graphics Service, who brought her fine design sense to bear on the creation of the printed catalog, and to Catherine Dinnean, head of the Library Graphics Service, and her assistants, for help in designing and mounting the exhibition itself.

L.S.     H.E.S.     R.P.B.

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