Life on the Mississippi
Life on the Mississippi
Life on the Mississippi
Life on the Mississippi
Life on the Mississippi

Life on the Mississippi

Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1883. First edition, second state. This is a first edition, second state of Mark Twain’s memoir of his career as a steamboat pilot, Life on the Mississippi. This copy is in the publisher’s original decorated cloth binding, with its rich gilt illustrations on the front cover and spine. This volume is only in good minus condition, owing to the necessity for repair to an otherwise clean copy in the original publisher’s binding. The brown cloth covers are clean with some shelf wear. The spine is a rich brown with bright gilt and no fading and a 1.25 inch branching split perpendicular to the top edge and a 1.25 inch split to the cloth at the top of the front hinge. These are all closed tears with no loss of material. The volume’s chief flaw is a split to the front endpaper and mull that leaves the binding detached at the front pastedown gutter, anchored to the text block only at the rear endpaper. The text block itself is in very good condition with clean paper, free of spotting and ownership markings. The sewing remains strong. This volume is a second state, lacking the tailpiece illustration on page 441 and having the correction to the caption on page 443 reading “St. Charles Hotel”. This book was gifted in thanks by filmmaker Ken Burns for contributions to his 2001 documentary on the life of Mark Twain and acquired by us from the recipient. Samuel Clemens (1835-1910), known by his pen name Mark Twain, remains ranked among the greatest American writers. Twain was born the sixth of seven children in Florida, Missouri shortly after an appearance of Halley’s Comet and would famously die with its reappearance. When he was four, his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, a port town on the banks of the Mississippi River characterized by the comings and goings of steamships along the river, bringing with them tradesmen, circuses, and revivalists as well as violence; at ten years of age Twain witnessed a slave die after a white overseer struck him with a piece of iron. Hannibal would later serve as inspiration for the setting of two of his most well known works, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. When Twain was eleven when his father died, prompting the young writer to leave school the next year and seek work as a printer’s apprentice. By 1851 he was working as a typesetter and writing material for the Hannibal Western Union, a small paper owned by his older brother. In 1857 the young Twain fulfilled a dream of piloting a steamboat on the Mississippi river. Fortunately for his readers, this career was cut short by the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. After serving a mere two weeks with a Confederate volunteer unit, he boarded a stagecoach heading west. His attempt to strike a fortune through prospecting failed, so he became a writer for a series of western newspapers under a pen name inspired by his days on the Mississippi - Mark Twain was steamboat slang for two fathoms of water. Twain first gained fame from a story inspired by his days in mining camps which was published in newspapers and magazines across the country. The story was eventually published in book form under the title “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” in a 1867 collection of the same name. Twain would go on to become a prolific writer of novels, short stories, essays, and articles, and served as a strident voice against imperialism and proponent of abolition, suffrage, and the labor movement. One of his most personal works published in his lifetime was Life on the Mississippi, published in 1883, which chronicled a true albeit embellished account of his career as a steamboat pilot. The text serves simultaneously as a history of the river and its critical role in American history, an autobiography, and a series of short stories depicting life in the pre-abolition American south. In 2010 Twain’s autobiography was published, giving him the distinction of having best selling volumes published in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Item #005533

Price: $150.00

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