Mark Twain—Is This for REAL?

My late parents had thousands of books. I’m not exaggerating. There are overstuffed bookcases in every room (except the bathrooms) of their large apartment, and no one was allowed to leave my mother’s memorial gathering without taking at least one book home.

Between my father’s passions for Art, American political history, baseball, the American Songbook, and 20th century literature, and my mother’s deep interest in social work & psychology, her love of the theater, and her lifelong fascination with mystery fiction, the bookshelves were swollen and double-stacked. Add a smattering of cookbooks, biographies, memoirs and miscellaneous fiction and non-fiction virtually every kind of books is represented by the dozens. There was something for everyone to take home—paperback cozy mysteries, spy novels, Charles Dickens, Willa Cather, rows of hardcovers by P.D. James, Anne Perry, and Ruth Rendell—the list goes on and on.

Before we put the “please take a book” signs up, I picked out a stack of art books, the autographed Truman biography, a couple of mysteries of sentimental value, and the autographed copy of P.D. James’ ‘The Children of Men.’ And then I asked one of my friends to look for a couple of books I wanted to take home, but couldn’t find. While she was looking for the old Sherlock Holmes story collection (it never turned up so I’m guessing it disappeared years ago) she found a 1909 edition of ‘The Prince and the Pauper.’ On one of the first pages, in a neat and elegant handwriting is the following message:

This is the authorized uniform edition of my books. Mark Twain

Is this for real? Do I have Mark Twain’s autograph on one of his classics? That would be cool. Even if it’s some kind of weird joke, it’s pretty cool.

A Mark Twain surprise?

A Mark Twain surprise?



  1. So sorry to hear about your mom passing, but you have written so lovingly of her and your father over the years from time to time in these posts. How good to hear too that their collection of books are finding new homes, but a Twain signature? That would be pretty awesome indeed, though it would be interesting to hear a book expert’s take on the way it’s been signed.

    • Candy Korman

      My college roommate’s son was visiting NYC yesterday and he found a first edition of For Whom the Bell Tolls! I’m going to go through the bookshelves very carefully… As for the Mark Twain, I will find an expert down the road. There are so many, many, many books!

    • Candy Korman

      In the last couple of days, I’ve discovered additional treasures including first editions of For Whom the Bell Tolls & From Here to Eternity and a peculiar autographed copy of Hollywood on Trail (about the 10 who were indicted by the House UnAmerican Committee) with signatures of 4 of the 10! Plus a bunch of autographed E.L. Doctorow novels. That’s not a big surprise, because my dad had the winning bid a charity auction and “won” lunch with E.L. Doctorow. I remember, because I went along!

      I’m not allowing myself to wonder about valuable books picked up during the memorial gathering. It was a treasure hunt without rules!

  2. Treasure trove, Candy! I’m drooling as I type. What a wonderful legacy to leave for you and everyone else. And wouldn’t it be amazing if the MarkTwain really were a Mark Twain ‘original’??? -hugs-

    • Candy Korman

      Pretty amazing!
      I’m going through each and every book now. Finding autographed copies, first editions, wonderful odd ball things. This may take a very long time, but who knows what treasures lurk. I’ve already found a first edition of For Whom the Bell Tolls!