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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Taylor Roberts <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 6 Feb 2012 09:46:00 -0500
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
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I too am sad to hear of Tom Tenney's passing. Like others, I too was
drawn into the field principally through the encouragement of Tom. In
the late 1980s I was an undergraduate in Canada, where there is little
academic interest in Mark Twain, and so in those pre-Internet days I
made contact with Tom when I subscribed to his Mark Twain Journal,
which was right up my alley, being focused more on biography than on
literary criticism.

In 1992 I finally had the nerve to submit to the MTJ what would turn
out to be my first academic publication, and I still recall vividly
the thrill of coming home to hear Tom's message on my answering
machine. I can exactly remember what to my Canadian ears was his
Southern drawl when he said enthusiastically of my article, "I do like
this!" As others have noted, Tom was very encouraging to young
scholars, and for me to have had his approval was (and remains) one of
the highlights of my life.

Had it not been for Tom's welcome to the 'circle' of MT scholars, I
surely would not have started the Mark Twain Forum, which I am proud
to see has become such a wonderful vehicle for us. Had Tom Tenney been
a different sort of person and not so welcoming, there is a good
chance I would have slunk away into some other pursuit.

In addition to the MTJ, of course his _Reference Guide_ and updates in
the Circular were also indispensible to me in my research.

Like others, I too had several long, late-night telephone
conversations with Tom. I was greatly flattered that he would want to
spend so much time talking with me. I believe the only time I met him
in person was at the 1997 Elmira conference, and for me it was like
meeting a hero.

My condolences to his family and friends. At times like these I think
it is important that we reflect on how Dr. Tenney made such a positive
and lasting contribution to us as people, and that we refresh our
efforts to emulate his high standard of scholarship and great human
qualities as we deal with beginning scholars coming up behind us.


Taylor Roberts
Toronto, Canada