'Livy darling, it was flattering, at the Lord Mayor's dinner, tonight, to have the nation's honored favorite, the Lord High Chancellor of England, in his vast wig and gown, with a splendid, sword-bearing lackey, following him and holding up his train, walk me arm-in-arm through the brilliant assemblage, and welcome me with all the enthusiasm of a girl, and tell me that when affairs of state oppress him and he can't sleep, he always has my books at hand and forgets his perplexities in reading them!' - 10 November, 1872. On his first trip to England to gather material for a book and cement relations with his newly authorized English publishers, Samuel Clemens was astounded to find himself hailed everywhere as a literary lion. America's premier humorist had begun his long tenure as an international celebrity. Meanwhile, he was coming into his full power at home. "The Innocents Abroad" continued to produce impressive royalties and his new book, "Roughing It", was enjoying great popularity. In newspaper columns he appeared regularly as public advocate and conscience, speaking on issues as disparate as safety at sea and political corruption.
Clemens' personal life at this time was for the most part fulfilling, although saddened by the loss of his nineteen-month-old son, Langdon, who died of diphtheria. "Life in the Nook Farm" community of writers and progressive thinkers and activists was proving to be all the Clemenses had hoped for. The 309 letters in this volume, more than half of them never before published, capture the events of these years with detailed intimacy. Thoroughly annotated and indexed, they are supplemented by genealogical charts of the Clemens and Langdon families, a transcription of the journals Clemens kept during his 1872 visit to England, book contracts, his preface to the English edition of "The Gilded Age", contemporary photographs of family and friends, and a gathering of all newly discovered letters written between 1865 and 1871. This volume is the fifth in the only complete edition of Mark Twain's letters ever attempted, and the twenty-fourth in the comprehensive edition known as "The Mark Twain Papers" and "Works of Mark Twain".show more