Laura Skandera Trombley, the preeminent Twain scholar at work today, reveals the never-before-read letters and daily journals of Isabel Lyon, Mark Twain's last personal secretary.
For six years, Isabel Lyon was responsible for running the aging Man in White's chaotic household, nursing him through several illnesses and serving as his adoring audience. But after a dramatic breakup of their relationship, Twain ranted in personal letters that she was a liar, a forger, a thief, a hypocrite, a drunkard, a sneak, a humbug, a traitor, a conspirator, a filthy-minded and salacious slut pining for seduction. For decades, biographers omitted Isabel from the official Twain history at his decree. But now, the truth of the split is exposed at last in a story that sheds light on a lionized author's final decade.
Laura Skandera Trombley became the eighth president of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in July 2015.
A specialist in Mark Twain, Trombley began conducting research at The Huntington as a young scholar, using rare materials in the Library to help shape her doctoral thesis. The Huntington had long been a part of Trombley's world; a Southern California native, she regularly accompanied her mother to The Huntington as a young child to explore the gardens and galleries.
Trombley is the author of five books. Her most recent, Mark Twain's Other Woman: The Hidden Story of His Final Years, was published in 2010. As a graduate student, she discovered the largest known cache of Mark Twain letters, which ultimately became the primary source material for her dissertation and her 1994 book, Mark Twain in the Company of Women. Her other books include Constructing Mark Twain: New Directions in Scholarship (2002), Critical Essays on Maxine Hong Kingston (1998), and Epistemology: Turning Points in the History of Poetic Knowledge (1986).
Before coming to The Huntington, Trombley spent 13 years as president of Pitzer College and worked to raise its national profile and enhance its reputation for academic excellence.
- 352 pages
- 5 1/5 x 4/5 x 8"
- Published by Vintage
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