Harley, John; Garrett, Edmund Henry; Shute, A.B. Hard Cover. Boston: James R. Osgood, 1883. 1st Edition. Near Fine.
Illustrated with 316 images by John Harley, Edmund Henry Garrett, and A. B. Shute. First edition, first state, with the illustration of the author and an urn bearing his initials in flames on page 441, and with the caption "The St. Louis Hotel" on the illustration on page 443. Publisher's decorative brown cloth, with pictorial panels depicting the Mississippi River stamped in gilt to the front board and spine, decorative ruling and ornamentations stamped in black to the front board. Near fine, with some light rubbing to the spine ends and corners, spine slightly starting inside the front cover, otherwise sturdy binding, clean pages. BAL 3411. Life on the Mississippi is a semi-autobiographical text about the history of the Mississippi River and the author's adventures riding on a steamboat from St. Louis to New Orleans. While much of the information in this text is factual, many of the individual episodes were fabricated to varying degrees and are better considered tall tales than accurate documentation. For example, Twain provides an account of the origin of his pseudonym, which he claims he took from Captain Isaiah Sellers. While the explanation of "mark twain" as a riverman's phrase for water found to be two fathoms deep (12 feet) is undoubtedly correct, it is likely that the stories regarding Sellers are at least partially embellished. In addition to offering insight into the author's earlier life, Life on the Mississippi provides historical context on the industrialization of the United States in the second half of the 19th century; throughout the text, Twain discusses the competition of railroads along with the growing cities in the American Midwest and South.