Mark Twain's other woman: the hidden story of his final years

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Average Rating
Alfred A. Knopf,
Pub. Date:
1st ed.
An enduring mystery in Mark Twain's life concerns the events of his last decade, from 1900 to 1910. Despite many Twain biographies, no one has ever determined exactly what took place during those final years after the death of Twain's wife of thirty-four years and how those experiences affected him, personally and professionally. For nearly a century, it was believed that Twain went to his death a beloved, wisecracking iconoclastic American ("I am notanAmerican," Twain wrote; "I amtheAmerican"), undeterred by life's sorrows and challenges. Laura Trombley, the preeminent Twain scholar at work today, suspected that there had to be more to the story than the cultivated, carefully constructed version that had been intact for so long. Trombley went in search of the one woman whom she suspected had played the largest role in Twain's life during those final years and who possibly held the answers to her questions about Twain's life and writings. Now, inMark Twain's Other Woman, after sixteen years of research, uncovering never-before-read papers and personal letters, Trombley tells the full story through Isabel Lyon's meticulous daily journals, the only detailed record of Twain's last years that exists, journals overlooked by Twain's previous biographers. For one hundred years, Isabel Van Kleek Lyon has been the mystery woman in Mark Twain's life. Twain spent the bulk of his last six years in the company of Isabel, who was responsible for overseeing his schedule and finances, nursing him through several illnesses, managing his increasingly unmanageable daughters, running his household, arranging amusements, as well as presiding over the construction of his final residence. Isabel Lyon also served as Twain's adoring audience (she called him "the King"), listening attentively as he read aloud to her what he'd written that day. She was Twain's gatekeeper to an enthralled public. Trombley writes about what happened between them that resulted in the dramatic breakup of their relationship; abouthow, in Twain's final months, he gave bitter, angry press conferences denouncing her; how he ranted in personal letters that she had injured him, calling her, "a liar, a forger, a thief, a hypocrite, a drunkard, a sneak, a humbug, a traitor, a conspirator, a filthy-minded & salacious slut pining for seduction." Trombley writes that Twain's invective bordered on obsession (he wrote about Isabel for hours every day, even while suffering from angina pains and gout attacks) and about how, despite the inordinate attention he gave her before his death, Isabel Lyon has remained a friendless ghost haunting the margins of Twain's biography. For decades, biographers deliberately omitted her from the official Twain story. Her potentially destructive power was so great that Twain's handpicked hagiographer, Albert Bigelow Paine, allowed only one timorous reference to her in his massive three-volume work,Mark Twain: A Biography(1912). Isabel Lyon was a forgotten woman, "so private," she wrote in her journal, "that the very mention of me [was] with held from the world. . ." This riveting, dark story that "the King" determined no one would ever tell is now revealed at last.
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Grouped Work ID 4b5faf20-af12-0214-6a10-5f386f7bd704
Grouping Title mark twain s other woman the hidden story of his final years
Grouping Author skandera trombley laura e
Grouping Category book
Last Grouping Update 2019-08-12 01:41:05AM
Last Indexed 2019-08-21 04:49:21AM

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author Skandera-Trombley, Laura E.
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primary_isbn 9780307273444
publishDate 2010
Bib IdFormatFormat CategoryEditionLanguagePublisherPublication DatePhysical Description
ils:.b29822956 Book Books 1st ed. English Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. xvii, 332 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
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subject_facet Authors, American -- 19th century -- Biography
Authors, American -- 20th century -- Biography
Lyon, Isabel, -- 1863-1958
Private secretaries -- United States -- Biography
Twain, Mark, -- 1835-1910 -- Last years
Twain, Mark, -- 1835-1910 -- Relations with private secretaries
Twain, Mark, -- 1835-1910 -- Relations with women
title_display Mark Twain's other woman : the hidden story of his final years
title_full Mark Twain's other woman : the hidden story of his final years / Laura Skandera Trombley
title_short Mark Twain's other woman :
title_sub the hidden story of his final years
topic_facet Authors, American
Last years
Lyon, Isabel
Private secretaries
Relations with private secretaries
Relations with women
Twain, Mark