As Christin noted in the comments to today's Reading Tonight, Mark Twain spent the last decade of his life writing an autobiography, and when he finally finished it, he insisted that it not be published until 100 years after his death...

...which is right now.

lyon.jpg
Scholars are divided as to why Twain wanted the first-hand account of his life kept under wraps for so long. Some believe it was because he wanted to talk freely about issues such as religion and politics. Others argue that the time lag prevented him from having to worry about offending friends.

One thing's for sure: by delaying publication, the author, who was fond of his celebrity status, has ensured that he'll be gossiped about during the 21st century. A section of the memoir will detail his little-known but scandalous relationship with Isabel Van Kleek Lyon, who became his secretary after the death of his wife Olivia in 1904. Twain was so close to Lyon that she once bought him an electric vibrating sex toy. But she was abruptly sacked in 1909, after the author claimed she had "hypnotised" him into giving her power of attorney over his estate.

Support The Stranger

Their ill-fated relationship will be recounted in full in a 400-page addendum, which Twain wrote during the last year of his life. It provides a remarkable account of how the dying novelist's final months were overshadowed by personal upheavals.

The memoir will be published in November. This makes tonight's reading at Elliott Bay Book Company, about Mark Twain's relationship with Van Kleek Lyon, a must-see.

Sponsored
DocFest Kicks Off The Return of SIFF Cinema | Sep 30-Oct 7
A celebration of all films documentary—with in person and virtual screenings, plus filmmaker Q&As.