Cover image for Mark Twain : the bachelor years : a biography
Mark Twain : the bachelor years : a biography
Sanborn, Margaret.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Doubleday, 1990.
Physical Description:
xix, 508 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS1331 .S17 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS1331 .S17 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Unlike Lauber's recent Invention of Mark Twain [BKL Mr 1 90], Sanborn draws heavily on Twain's own writings, the literary publications as well as private journals and correspondence, to tell the story of the author's early life. With a fine command of biographical facts and literary and psychological analysis, Sanborn supplies a portrait of Sam Clemens' life that shows how he became Mark Twain, America's most famous and best-loved humorist. This study certainly captures with a vivid appeal the amusing experiences that were transformed into literary art by Twain. On a more serious note, however, Sanborn also probes into the darker, tragic events of her subject's life as the demands of celebrity and the desire for privacy jostled in Clemens' soul just as his creative powers seemed to decline in mid-career. A fascinating and flavorful picture of both the man and the writer. Notes and bibliography; index. The second volume of the writer's collected letters--the first was reviewed in BOOKLIST, May 15, 1988--also features the young reporter's adventures around the world. Many of these letters are published here for the first time, and they record the writer's voyages, his first taste of success as a professional writer, and the pangs of love that would ultimately lead to his marriage to Olivia Langdon. While all the scholarly apparatus is in place, these letters have a definite appeal for the general audience: Twain exercises his wit and exposes his soul to his readers. Appendixes, textual commentaries, and references; index. --John Brosnahan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Here for the first time is an exuberant yet scholarly reconstruction of Twain's youth, from birth in 1835 to marriage in 1870, a marvelous well of experience into which he dipped for so much of his later writing. We see Samuel Langhorne Clemens grow from the sickly child of a grim-faced attorney and a beautiful, witty mother into a sturdy youth with a puckish sense of humor (not always amused when the joke was on him) and an irrepressible appetite for life that impelled him from one adventurous enterprise to another. After some years as a roving teenage printer who delighted in sending squibs to the newspapers, he became a Mississippi riverboat captain, then a Confederate soldier, would-be Nevada silver miner, California journalist, widely traveled newspaper correspondent, popular lecturer and bestselling author. Sanborn ( Robert E. Lee ) relies heavily on Twain's largely untapped personal letters to make us feel close to the very texture of his personality in its darker as well as its lighter aspects. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Beginning in 1835 with Samuel Clemens's birth and ending 39 years later after the marriage of the celebrated author, Mark Twain, this readable and vivid biography chronicles in great detail the inimitable writer's boyhood and youthful professions of typesetter, riverboat pilot, miner, and newspaper correspondent. Sanborn relies heavily on archival materials, quoting at length from the letters (published in their entirety as Mark Twain's Letters , Vol. 1: 1853-1866 , LJ 4/15/87, and Vol. 2: 1867-1868 ). Her research and writing are generally careful (she cites her sources in endnotes), although the chronology skips around in a confusing manner at times. Recommended for students of American literature and Mark Twain enthusiasts.--Janice Braun, Yale Univ. Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.