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Twain’s Memoirs to Be Published

Mark Twain spent the last decade of his life toiling over his autobiography, and demanded the text not be published until 100 years after his death. That day has finally come. Twain wrote 5,000 pages of his memoir, and the University of California Berkeley will publish the first volume this fall. The eventual trilogy will have half a million words. Scholars argue over whether the Tom Sawyer author wanted to delay publication to talk freely about religion and politics or gossip freely about friends. Twain thought Christian missionaries trekking to Africa should stay in their own country and try to do something about lynching in the South. And an angry 400-page addendum details the tumultuous relationship with secretary Isabel Van Kleek Lyon in the last years of his life. (She bought him an electric sex toy, but also perhaps “hypnotized” Twain into giving her power of attorney over his estate.) Whatever his motivations, Twain “was certainly a man who knew how to make people want to buy a book,” a scholar says.