Twain Tales: How a University Project, Press, and Library Crafted a Best-Seller

“A hundred and one years after his death, Mark Twain still knows how to move books. The first volume of the Autobiography of Mark Twain, published by the University of California Press last year, now has half-a-million copies in print. It has spent 16 weeks on the New York Times hardcover-nonfiction best-seller list. (It’s now just ahead of Keith Richards’s memoir.)

“And it doesn’t seem to be letting up,” Robert H. Hirst told an audience at the National Endowment for the Humanities headquarters here Wednesday. Mr. Hirst is the general editor of the Mark Twain Project and curator of the Mark Twain Papers, housed at the Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley.

The editor was in town to talk about the process of getting the Autobiography into the hands of Twain’s still-adoring public—and to emphasize the role public money, in the form of financial support from the humanities endowment, helped play in making it happen. In a lecture chock-full of colorful Twain anecdotes—always a crowd-pleaser—Mr. Hirst described how Twain Project editors and graduate students spent the last five years sifting through and collating 5,000 pages of manuscript and trying to figure out how to organize it as Twain wanted.” – Jennifer Howard, The Chronicle

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Mr. Hirst goes to Washington

“Robert Hirst, general editor of the Mark Twain Project at UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, went to Washington, D.C., this week. He shared with folks around the Beltway the story of the production of the first volume of the autobiography of legendary American author and humorist Samuel Langhorne Clemens, best known by his pen name Mark Twain.

Hirst delivered two talks about the publication of the “Autobiography of Mark Twain: The Complete and Authoritative Edition, Volume 1” ( on Wednesday (Feb. 16).  The first was at the headquarters of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the second was on Capitol Hill, where Hirst was introduced by Claire McCaskill, a fourth-generation Missourian and senator from Twain’s home state.” –

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New ebooks in the Synthesis Digital Library series

Synthesis Digital Library Update for January 2011

The following new titles were published in January: