Mark Twain's Library of Humor

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Mark Twain's Library of Humor  (1888) 
by Mark Twain

Note: A book of the same name was published in 1906 by Harper and Brothers. This is the original 1888 anthology.

In 1880, George Gebbie suggested to Samuel L. Clemens ("Mark Twain") that he publish an anthology of humorous works. The idea eventually worked out into a project financed by Clemens to produce an anthology of American humor with himself as editor and William Dean Howells and Charles Hopkins Clark assisting. Clemens actually did the least work on the project, but he remained in control the whole time and had the final say in everything. He realized that and wanted to put Howells's name on the title page, but a legal agreement with Harper and Brothers that his name would only appear on their publications prevented this, and Harper and Brothers wanted $2,500 for a release, compelling Howells to sign the Introduction as "The Associate Editors." The book was published in 1888 by Charles L. Webster & Company. When that firm collapsed in 1894, Harper and Brothers took over the publication of all of Clemens's works. The Library of Humor was a valuable piece, containing many copyrighted works by many distinguished and popular authors, and secretary of Harper and Brothers Frederick A. Duneka had it revamped and expanded by Burges Johnson for a several-volume revival in 1906. The title and Apology were kept, but the result was wildly different (Clemens's reaction is mildly suggested by the title of Johnson's Fall 1937 article in the Mark Twain Quarterly, "When Mark Twain Cursed Me"); so different, in fact, that one authority has said that it should have really been called The Harper Library of Humor.

                                  Compiler's Apology

                                   Those selections in this 
                           book which are from my own works 
                           were made by my two assistant 
                           compilers, not by me. This is why 
                           there are not more.

                                         Mark Twain

                           Hartford             Jan. 1 1888

Table of Contents[edit]


This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.