Throughout his life Joan of Arc had been Mark Twain’s favorite character in the world’s history. His love for her was a beautiful and a sacred thing. He adored young maidenhood always and nobility of character, and he was always the champion of the weak and the oppressed. The combination of these characteristics made him the ideal historian of an individuality and of a career like hers. It is fitting that in his old age (he was nearing sixty when it was finished) he should have written this marvelously beautiful thing. He could not have written it at an earlier time. It had taken him all these years to prepare for it; to become softened, to acquire the delicacy of expression, the refinement of feeling, necessary to the achievement.
It was the only book of all he had written that Mark Twain considered worthy of this dedication:
1870 To my wife
Olivia Langdon Clemens
is tendered on our wedding anniversary in grateful recognition
of her twenty-five years of valued service as my literary
adviser and editor.
The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc was a book not understood in the beginning, but to-day the public, that always renders justice in the end, has reversed its earlier verdict. The demand for Joan has multiplied many fold and it continues to multiply with every year. Its author lived long enough to see this change and to be comforted by it, for though the creative enthusiasm in his other books soon passed, his glory in the tale of Joan never died. On his seventy-third birthday, when all of his important books were far behind him, and he could judge them without prejudice, he wrote as his final verdict:
Nov. 30, 1908
I like the Joan of Arc best of all my books; & it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others: 12 years of preparation & a years of writing. The others needed no preparation, & got none.
MR. ROGERS AND HELEN KELLER
It was during the winter of ’96, in London, that Clemens took an active interest in the education of Helen Keller and enlisted the most valuable adherent in that cause, that is to say, Henry H. Rogers. It was to Mrs. Rogers that he wrote, heading his letter:
For & in behalf
of Helen Keller,
Stone blind & deaf,
& formerly dumb.