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Mark Twain was a hardworking and prolific writer, but how did he spend his time when the "bread-and-butter element" was put aside and he was free to relax and amuse himself?

He was a lover of music and song, of cats and cigars, of charades and games; he was an enthusiastic inventor, an obsessive billiards player, a charismatic raconteur, a mischievous correspondent, and perhaps the most sought-after luncheon and dinner guest in America.

These many and varied leisure pursuits—and how Mark Twain's "play" influenced his "work"—are the subject of "Mark Twain at Play."

The exhibition brings together manuscripts, documents, notebooks, albums, vintage photographs, and other artifacts from The Bancroft Library's Mark Twain Papers. It was the inaugural exhibition (October 2008-April 2009) in the new exhibit space within the retrofitted and renovated Bancroft Library. More...


"Mark Twain at Play" was first mounted—for one night only—in April 2007 at the Bancroft Gala for the Mark Twain Papers in San Francisco. In October 2008, with the generous support of Colleen and Robert Haas, an expanded version of "Mark Twain at Play" became the inaugural exhibition in the Bancroft Gallery, a newly created exhibit space within the retrofitted and renovated Bancroft Library.

Work on the exhibition, as it has progressed and grown over the last two years from original concept to the online version, has drawn on the expertise of many colleagues in The Bancroft Library and the Library Systems Office. The curators—Lin Salamo, Victor Fischer, Michael B. Frank, Sharon K. Goetz, and Harriet Elinor Smith—would like to thank Anthony Bliss, Curator of Rare Books, and Lorna Kirwan, Bancroft Collections Manager, as well as Gillian Boal, Ann Lindsey, and Erika Lindensmith of the Preservation and Conservation Department for their ongoing consultations about the valuation, handling, and installation of the rare items to be displayed. Barbara Young and Beth McGonagle smoothed our way through the hectic one-day exhibit for the April 2007 Gala. More...

The Mark Twain Papers & Project

At the heart of the Mark Twain Papers archive are the private papers—letters, manuscripts, and books—of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910). They were bequeathed to the University of California by his daughter, Clara Clemens Samossoud, in 1962.

The holdings include some fifty of the author's notebooks; about 11,000 letters by him or his family, and more than 17,000 letters to them; hundreds of manuscripts, as well as related working notes, typescripts, and proofs; first editions; books from his library; scrapbooks, photographs, and other important collateral documents. Thousands of photocopies and transcriptions from collections around the world have been assembled, which, combined with the original bequest, make it possible to read virtually every document in Mark Twain's hand without ever leaving Berkeley. More...
The Bancroft Library Exhibits
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[an error occurred while processing this directive] Acknowledgments Mark Twain Papers and Project About the Exhibit Timeline Relaxing Friends and Social Life Mark Twain at Sea Inventions, Games and Contraptions Cats and Billiards One Cigar at a Time Music and Theater Literary Mischief