Alan Gribben’s Lifelong Hunt for Mark Twain’s Library Books

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March 12, 2019 • 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm


Alan Gribben has been on a 50-year quest to locate 3000 books Mark Twain had in his personal library.

The Twain scholar presents the results of his literary detective work in his new book, Mark Twain’s Literary Resources: A Reconstruction of His Library and Reading on Tuesday, March 12, 7 p.m., at The Mark Twain House & Library.

In 1997 Gribben, then head of the Department of English and Philosophy at Auburn University, was the first scholar asked to examine a collection of 271 of Twain’s books (not written by him) acquired in auction by The Mark Twain House. An exhibition followed that purchase.  Many of the books had Twain’s handwritten comments on their pages.

In 1970, Gribben used the resources at The Mark Twain House as part of his doctoral dissertation when he was an editorial assistant for the Mark Twain Project at the University of California at Berkeley.  In 1980 his book Mark Twain’s Library was released.  This new three-volume set is based on earlier research, much of it done in Hartford. Volume 1 is being released March 1 by NewSouth Books.

Twain’s personal library books were sold through auctions authorized by his daughters in 1911 and 1951. Gribben traveled across the United States in the 1970s, searching in likely places to find them and make them available to scholars. A relative of Twain’s housekeeper Katy Leary was planning to donate 90 inherited books, many with Twain’s handwritten opinions, to charity. Gribben intervened and they were donated to Elmira College.

No books will be on sale at this event. However, attendees will be able to pre-order the book at this event, and Dr. Gribben will sign bookplates purchases can insert in the book when it arrives.

Read more about Gribben here.

The event is free. Reserve your seat.



March 12, 2019
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Event Category:


The Mark Twain House & Museum
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