Mary Fairbanks

Mary Mason Fairbanks is by far the most influential non-family member in Sam Clemens's life. Clemens and Fairbanks first met on board the Quaker City where she began editing his paper assignments which would eventually be compiled into Innocents Abroad."Gentility, high sentiment, polish, piety, and decorum, along with an aversion to 'slang,' 'vulgarity,' irreverence,' were her literary and life values, just as they were the values of an entire female audience which Mark Twain several times tried to accommodate"(Kaplan 75). Clemens's relationship with Fairbanks became so intimate he addressed her as 'mother' and called himself her 'cub' and 'reformed prodigy'"(Kaplan 75). Even though she was such an important figure in his life, she did not appear anywhere in Innocents Abroad. J.D.Stahl, in his Mark Twain: Culture and Gender, explains this discrepancy by saying the narrator wanted to steer attention towards his own experiences instead of crediting and sharing Mary Fairbanks experiences. He also goes on to explain that the lack of encounters with women in Innocents Abroad creates the effect of the narrator coming off as "an innocent who ambivalently seeks to lose and preserve his innocence"(Stahl 31). Although Olivia would eventually take over much of Fairbanks's editorial duties, Clemens and Fairbanks maintained frequent correspondence throughout his career.

Mary Fairbanks provided Clemens with social, moral, and literary direction and can be associated with such reformist characters as the following:

Aunt Polly
Widow Douglas
Miss Watson
Aunt Sally