If Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, had lived today, his nonstop outpouring of observations on American life might fit neatly on a medium-size hard drive. Twain, however, applied pen to paper when he wanted to jot down his ideas, manuscripts, letters, sketches, speeches, and other documents, amassing a voluminous collection that has become a national treasure.
Before his death in 1910, Twain passed his papers to his official biographer, Albert Bigelow Paine, who published sparingly from them until 1937. After stays at Harvard University and the Huntington Library, the core of the collection was given to Berkeley in 1949. It was officially bequeathed to the University of California in 1962 upon the death of Twain’s daughter. The Mark Twain Papers became part of The Bancroft Library in 1971.
Under the meticulous care of Bancroft editors, a major effort is underway to edit and publish everything of significance that Twain ever wrote. Most of the new print publications are also available online.