Samuel L. Clemens: On The Mississippi River To Roughing It In The West.
“Truth is Stranger than Fiction,” Mark Twain wrote in Following the Equator, “but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to Possibilities; Truth isn’t.” (That remained true about novels until Jules Verne took pen in hand.) In Twain’s recently published autobiographical musings, he makes no effort to put the truth in a chronological order. The same is true of his semi-autobiographical works, including Roughing It, and later Old Times on the Mississippi and Life on the Mississippi. Nor, in these, does he always tell the whole truth, and occasionally he has created his own tall tales.
Research into 1800s newspaper articles and documents reveals that Twain writes of events in his life, but not necessarily in the order they occurred, or even during the event being described. The historical researcher finds Twain’s writing to be based, by and large, on actual events in his life, but that many facts are left out, and others are moved in time to fit the narrative.
The purpose of this site is to explore factual information about Mark Twain’s life as found in newspapers of the time, federal and state archives, county records, private collections and other sources. The two managers of this website each have over forty years in research, speaking, and publishing relative to the West, Sam Clemens on the Mississippi River, and Sam as a sojourner in Nevada Territory and California.
Michael H. Marleau Robert E. Stewart
Stockton, California Carson City, Nevada