I'm pretty sure the source of this quote is actually Helen Scott, from an
essay originally published in the *International Socialist Review *in 2000
and republished on the Socialist Worker website some years later. This
quote made its way to Wikipedia, into a paragraph that has been plagiarized
frequently by blogs and bios, and though the source is part of the Wiki
entry, the plagiarists often remove the footnote and adjust the phrasing
to make it seem like those are Twain's own words.
The original Helen Scott essay is, in my opinion, a pretty nice revisionist
Twain mini-bio, and I think her characterization of the Elmirans Twain came
in contact with is accurate. For more about them, you can see my essays on
"The Gospel of Revolt."
*Matt Seybold, PhD*
Associate Professor of American Literature & Mark Twain Studies
Scholar-in-Residence, Center for Mark Twain Studies
Host, The American Vandal Podcast
Peterson Chapel Vestry, Cowles Hall
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On Wed, Dec 8, 2021 at 12:30 PM Max Wallace <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hello Twain scholars. I am working on a book for Hachette about Helen
> Keller’s political crusades and I have been researching Twain’s friendship
> with HK.
> In the course of my research, I have frequently come across an alleged
> Twain quote about Olivia Langdon but I have not been able to track down a
> primary source in any credible biography or Twain quotation database. It
> makes me wonder if the quotation is perhaps linked to one dubious original
> source or whether it has a genuine root in an obscure Twain speech or
> To quote from one example:
> “Through his marriage to the liberal activist Olivia Langdon, Twain came
> into close contact with a wider range of radical circles: ‘socialists,
> principled atheists and activists for women’s rights and social equality’
> is how he described them.”
> Does this sound at all familiar? Thanks very much.
> - Max Wallace