Mark Twain

= Subscribers only. Sign in here. Subscribe here.

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Mark Twain’s first article in Harper’s was misattributed to Mark Swain. The story, “Forty-three Days in an Open Boat” (December 1866), is an account of the Hornet, a clipper ship that caught fire in the ocean, leaving its crew adrift. Twain referred to it as the “first magazine article I ever published,” though he had published numerous pieces in other periodicals and newspapers under such names as Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass; W. Epaminondas Adrastus Blab; Rambler; Grumbler; and Peter Pencilcase’s Son, John Snooks.

Twain was born thirty-one years earlier, and two months premature, as Samuel Langhorne Clemens, in Florida, Missouri. “When I first saw him I could see no promise in him,” his mother said. The Clemenses moved several miles upstate, to the Missouri River-side Hannibal, when he was four; the town would later inspire the fictional St. Petersburg of his two most famous works, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885).

Harper’s serialized Twain’s novels Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (printed under the name “Sieur Louis de Conte”) and Tom Sawyer, Detective in May and August 1895, respectively; they were published whole the following year by Harper & Brothers, which founded Harper’s and later acquired the rights to, among other Twain works, the earlier Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894), and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889), which William Dean Howells, writing for Harper’s, provided with one of its few positive reviews.

Harper’s published many of Twain’s most revered stories and articles, among them “Mental Telegraphy,” “A Majestic Literary Fossil,” “A Petition to the Queen of England,” “Was it Heaven? Or Hell?,” and several additions to his “Unpublished chapters from the autobiography of Mark Twain,” including “My Debut as a Literary Person,” about the publication of “Forty-three Days” in Harper’s.

Twain was a Freemason and a member of the Society for Psychical Research and Yale University’s secret society Scroll and Key. He received an honorary degree from Oxford University and, according to the New York Times, was “Suggested for the Honor” of the 1907 Nobel Prize in Literature. Public schools, an U.S. Army installation in Germany, a bridge, a comet, and at least three awards are named after him.

From the Archive — From the May 2014 issue

Humor

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Readings — From the October 2010 issue

The burglary at Stormfield

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Readings — From the December 2009 issue

Sitting in darkness

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Readings — From the April 2009 issue

The quarrel in the strong-box

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Readings — From the June 2000 issue

A presidential candidate

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Article — From the April 1999 issue

Is Shakespeare dead?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Readings — From the June 1997 issue

Copyright piracy, circa 1872

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Readings — From the May 1992 issue

Twain tackles the character issue

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Readings — From the November 1989 issue

Writer’s grudge

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Readings — From the October 1987 issue

Mark Twain on the safest sex

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Article — From the July 1976 issue

An open letter to my countrymen

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Article — From the July 1976 issue

An open letter to my countrymen

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Wraparound — From the March 1976 issue

The Twain meets . . . animals

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Wraparound — From the October 1975 issue

Wraparound

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Wraparound — From the June 1975 issue

Wraparound

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Wraparound — From the January 1975 issue

Perdition

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Wraparound — From the December 1973 issue

Wraparound

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Wraparound — From the May 1973 issue

Reports

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Article — From the June 1961 issue

A Boston girl

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

October 2014

Cassandra Among the
Creeps

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Today Is Better Than Tomorrow”

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

PBS Self-Destructs

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Monkey Did It

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
 
Rebecca Solnit on silencing women, a Marine commander returns to Iraq, the decline of PBS, and more
Article
Cassandra Among the Creeps·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On silencing women
“The old framework of feminine mendacity and murky-mindedness is still routinely trotted out, and we should learn to recognize it for what it is.”
Photograph © Sallie Dean Shatz
Post
Ending College Sexual Assault·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“This is not a fable about a young woman whose dreams were dashed by a sexual predator. Maya’s narrative is one of institutional failure at a school desperately trying to adapt.”
Photograph © AP/Josh Reynolds
Post
 
"Clothes are a bit like eating: you have to dress yourself. You have to eat, and even if you eat pizza all day long, that’s still a choice."
Photograph © G Powell
Article
“Today Is Better Than Tomorrow”·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Iraq has every disease there is; its mind is deranged with too many voices, its organs corrupted, its limbs only long enough to tear at its own body.”
Photograph by Benjamin Busch

Amount by which the total wealth of all American households declined last year:

$11,200,000,000,000

A study concluded that commercial fish stocks may be gone by 2050 as a result of overfishing, pollution, and global climate change.

“All I saw,” said a 12-year-old neighbor of visits to the man’s house, “was just cats in little diapers.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today