April 21, 1910

At the time of Samuel Clemens’s death, Mark Twain was perhaps the best known and most recognizable person in America. His declining health, death, and funeral were covered on the front pages of newspapers across the country and were news around the world. Eulogies, editorials, appraisals, recollections, and tributes appeared in newspapers, magazines, and journals in the weeks and months that followed.

A public funeral service was held on Saturday, April 23, at the Brick Presbyterian Church on Fifth Avenue in New York, where thousands of mourners filed past the open coffin and a familiar white suit. The next day Samuel Clemens was buried beside his wife, son, daughters, and members of the Langdon family at Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, NY.

In 1937 his daughter, Clara Clemens Gabrilowitsch, placed a monument in his memory at the family plot. It stands twelve feet high—equal to two fathoms—the depth of water needed by Mississippi riverboats for safe passage, a measure referred to by the expression, “Mark Twain.”

Mark Twain. Last Manuscripts. Bermuda, 1910.
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Samuel Clemens spent the last months of his life in Bermuda, residing in the household of William H. Allen. These “last manuscripts” were written for Allen’s daughter, Helen, who signed a receipt for $2.40 promising “to believe everything [Mark Twain] says hereafter.” The second document is not dated, but it was likely written between April 8 and April 11, 1910, as Clemens prepared to leave. Here the ailing Clemens gave back his receipt “on account of ill health and obliged to go away.” He sailed for Connecticut on April 12.

After Clemens returned to his home, he was too weak to write more than a few very short inscriptions and notes.

From the collection of Susan Jaffe Tane

Photograph of Mark Twain and Helen Allen. Bermuda, 1908.
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A photograph of Samuel Clemens and Helen Allen in bathing suits taken during a visit to Bermuda in 1908.

From the collection of Susan Jaffe Tane

“Twain Is Weaker: Death Is Thought Almost Certain.” In The St. Louis Republic. St. Louis, April 21, 1910.
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On what we now know was the day of Samuel Clemens’s death, The St. Louis Republic ran a front-page article giving an update on his deteriorating medical condition. After offering news about his health, the article documents Mark Twain’s connections to the St. Louis area in his life.

From the collection of Susan Jaffe Tane

Albert Bigelow Paine. “Mark Twain: A Biographical Summary.” In Harper’s Weekly. New York: April 30, 1910.
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This issue of the magazine was published with two covers, both with photographs of Mark Twain, and included a memorial tribute by his biographer Albert Bigalow Paine.

Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections
Cornell University Library

“Last Honors to Mark Twain.” In Harper’s Weekly. New York: May 7, 1910.
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Two weeks after Clemens’s death the magazine reported on his funeral with a page of photographs of his funeral.

Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections
Cornell University Library

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