Special Collections


  One of the main goals of this site is to make the rare and often unique Twain items in the Barrett Collection available to users around the world. At left is part of the first page of the manuscript of "A True Story," a sketch MT wrote in 1874. Based on the experience of slavery of "Aunt Rachel" (whom MT knew as a servant at Quarry Farm, where he was finishing Tom Sawyer), it was MT's first sustained attempt to represent African American speech. It was also the first of his works ever to be published in The Atlantic Monthly. Clicking on the image will take you to the complete text and 29-page manuscript of the tale, as they are displayed in the site's section of the sources of Huck Finn.


  The Barrett Collection contains the manuscripts of several of MT's speeches. Although he sought to give his live performances an air of improvisation, he always carefully wrote out even his after-dinner "toasts" beforehand, and memorized them while rehearsing them in private. At left is part of the first page of a sixteen-page tribute "To Woman" that MT delivered at Delmonico's in New York in 1882. Clicking on the image will take you to the display of this speech in "Mark Twain on Stage," where you can see the entire manuscript (and see how carefully MT prepared his live performances). You can also read the press reports to see how the men at the banquet enjoyed the performance.


  Several dozen of MT's letters can also be "seen" throughout the site. Seventeen of them are gathered together in an interactive exhibit that displays the many different names Sam Clemens and Mark Twain used to identify themselves. You can go there by clicking on the image at left.


  The site contains many different kinds of promotional materials created by MT and his publishers: prospectuses, posters, ads, brochures, and novelty items like the one at left. This pocket edition of "Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar" was produced by The Century Magazine to advertise its ongoing serial publication of the novel. There are two versions of this "text" in the Barrett Collection. MT signed the one at left "with Wilson's compliments" for presentation to Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula. Clicking on it will take you to the other version, as displayed in the "Pudd'nhead Wilson" section of the site.


  One of the most recent additions to the Barrett Twain Collection is the typescript for a very short story called "How the Chimney-Sweep Got the Ear of the Emperor." Special Collections already owned the manuscript, which MT wrote in Vienna late in 1899. By then MT was regularly having his mss. typed before sending them to be printed, but this is apparently the earliest ts. that has survived. You can see digital facsimiles of both the ms. and the ts. (with MT's revisions and comments on both) by clicking on the icon at left, which will take you to a critical edition of the story designed and written by Catherine Tousignant, former Associate Director of the E-Text Center, for a graduate class at U.Va.


  And then there are the kinds of items that only MT -- with his wide range of interests, his impulsive imagination and his lifelong ambition for money -- could produce. Included in that category is the Barrett Collection's copy of a game MT designed and marketed during the 1880s. You can see it by clicking on the image at left. If you want to play it, you'll have to get your own copy. (You can play this site's interactive "Memory" game -- loosely based on MT's -- by CLICKING HERE.