Presented on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at the Quarry Farm Barn. Harriet Elinor Smith was educated at the University of California, Berkeley, and has been an editor at the Mark Twain Project in The Bancroft Library for over thirty-five years, producing numerous critical editions of the author’s literary works and letters. She is the editor of Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 (2010), Volume 2 (2013), and Volume 3 (2015), all published by the University of California Press.
Mark Twain wanted to write a completely honest and candid autobiography. But he realized that he could not reveal his most provocative ideas and private thoughts in a work that would be published during his lifetime. Only from the grave, he decided, could he speak freely without fear of being judged, and “mangle and mutilate” people without wounding their feelings. Ms. Smith, editor of the Autobiography of Mark Twain, discusses the author’s numerous observations about the difficulty of telling the truth and the strategies he adopted to remove his inhibitions, illustrating her talk with quotations from his letters and readings of passages he suppressed during his lifetime. In conclusion, she will answer the question of whether he did in fact speak his “whole, frank mind.”