Boston: James R. Osgood, 1883. 8vo. 624 pp. FIRST EDITION, FIRST STATE. Frontispiece of the “Baton Rouge” steamboat, over 300 illustrations and 4 appendices. Original brown cloth, covers with gold and black stamped decorations and gilt pictorial vignettes on the upper cover and spine, minor wear to foot of spine; interior excellent. From the library of Grace W. and Ira W. Hoover, with their bookplate. Item #16197
First edition, first issue with the tailpiece depicting Twain’s head and urn in flames on pp. 441, (later deleted) as Twain’s wife, Livy, objected to the morbidity of the chapter on cremation. Additionally, the caption on pp. 443 reads the “The St. Louis Hotel,” which in later issues is corrected to “The St. Charles Hotel.”
In this largely autobiographical narrative, Twain retells a rich account of his early years navigating the Mississippi River. An illustrative “account of the steamboat age, the science of river piloting, and the life of the river itself from the point of view of those who made their life living it,” Life on the Mississippi is revered as a valued piece of the American legacy. Simultaneously published in the United States and Great Britain in 1883, this book explores the history of steamboat culture as a work of fiction, historical text, and travel book. It highlights the ever-present competition from railroads and the new and large cities characterized by greed, tragedy, and gullibility.
Lauded at the “Father of American Literature,” Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), better known by his most-used pen name, Mark Twain, is a hallmark of classic American literature. Known for his other famous works, The adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel, The adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain is known for his radical civil rights views and often-censored subject matter. His works run the gamut from novels, to collections of letters, to humorous stories about nineteenth century steamboat culture.