Twain's Awaited Autobiography Hits Shelves Today

By RJ Middleton
|  Monday, Nov 15, 2010  |  Updated 7:15 AM PDT
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Twain's Awaited Autobiography Hits Shelves Today

Brittanica.com

With a white suit, langorous gait and that legendary mustache, Mark Twain may have been mistaken for a genteel, grandfatherly figure.

Wrong. More cantankerous and curmudgeonly, it seems.

Liking his limelight, he demanded that his "Autobiography of Mark Twain (Vol. 1)" be delayed for publication until he was dead for a century. And probably so everyone he destructively wrote about would be dead, too.

But that deadline disipates today. The book is already no. 9 on the New York Times best-seller list, as well as being near the top of Amazon.com's, too.

Near the end of his days, Twain's life was rife with personal drama, disappointments and tragedy. His daughter dying seems to be a tipping point in his raucous behavior. His personal secretary allegedly seduced him into giving over power of attorney. He references her as a "slut."

He also wrote a manuscript that, according to one historian, is "400 pages of bile." Things he'd never say or write publicly were being jotted ferociously. The man was grinding axes, Paul Bunyan style.

The last images of him were a film taken by Thomas Edison when Twain visited Connecticutt in 1909, only a year before he died.

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