In his person and in his pursuits, Mark Twain (1835 1910) was a man of extraordinary contrasts. Although he left school at twelve, when his father died, he was eventually awarded honorary degrees from Yale University, the University of Missouri, and Oxford University. His career encompassed such varied occupations as printer, Mississippi riverboat pilot, journalist, travel writer, and publisher. He made fortunes from his writing but toward the end of his life he had to resort to lecture tours to pay his debts. He was hot-tempered, profane, and sentimental and also pessimistic, cynical, and tortured by self-doubt. His nostalgia for the past helped produce some of his best books. He lives in American letters as a great artist, the writer whom William Dean Howells called the Lincoln of our literature.
Elizabeth Frank is the author of the novel Cheat and Charmer (2005) as well as the biography Louise Bogan: A Portrait, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1986. She is also the author of two art monographs, Jackson Pollock (1983) and Esteban Vincente (1995). A translator of contemporary Bulgarian fiction, she is the Joseph E. Harry Professor of Modern Languages & Literature at Bard.
Mark Dawidziak is the television critic for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A theater, film and television reviewer for more than thirty-five years, his many books include Mark My Words: Mark Twain on Writing (1996), Horton Foote s The Shape of the River: The Lost Teleplay About Mark Twain (2003), Mark Twain in Ohio (2015) and Mark Twain s Guide to Diet, Exercise, Beauty, Fashion, Investment, Romance, Health and Happiness (2015). The co-founder and artistic director of northeast Ohio s Largely Literary Theater Company, he has been portraying Mark Twain on stage since 1979 (the makeup process getting shorter each year). He also frequently performs Mark Twain material with his wife, actress Sara Showman, in their two-person show Twain By Two. He has three times been the guest scholar at the Center for Mark Twain Studies."