The Trouble Begins at 5:30: Kevin Mac Donnell and Origin of Mark Twain Pen Name

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May 22, 2019 • 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Kevin Mac Donnell

Mark Twain at Ten Paces

Independent Twain scholar, collector and Mark Twain House favorite Kevin Mac Donnell will follow up on research that made the news in 2012: his discovery of a possible new source for the pseudonym “Mark Twain,” eternally linked with Samuel L.Clemens. He showed that Clemens may have come across a magazine article using the name shortly before adopting it as his own in 1863. Now, Mac Donnell offers startling new documentary and photographic evidence that firmly places Clemens just 10 paces—literally—from a copy of that very magazine, and, he believes, confirms the story.

Kevin Mac Donnell co-edited (with Alan Gribben) Mark Twain’s Rubaiyat (1983), contributed articles to the Mark Twain Encyclopedia (1993), co-edited (with R. Kent Rasmussen) Mark Twain and Youth (2016), and has reviewed over 50 books for the Mark Twain Forum. His discovery of the probable source of Mark Twain’s nom de plume went viral on and The Huffington Post, and was cited as “research of note” by The Chronicle of Higher Education. He was chosen as a Mark Twain Legacy Scholar by the Mark Twain Journal in 2016. His collection of more than 9,000 Mark Twain items–first editions, archives, manuscripts, and artifacts—is the largest in private hands, and is frequently shared with other scholars and museums.

Reception with light refreshments 5 p.m., lecture 5:30 p.m. While this event is free, pre-registration is required. Register here.

Upcoming Trouble speakers:

June 12, Stephen Kinzer, author, on his book The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of the American Empire.


The Trouble Begins series is made possible in part by the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies in Elmira, NY.

Thanks also for the support provided by Salute Restaurant in Hartford.




May 22, 2019
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
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