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Cyril Clemens papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 5

Scope and Contents

The Cyril Clemens Papers contain writings, photocopies of correspondence, and printed papers about Mark Twain. While the papers span the dates 1864-1979, the bulk of the material covers the years 1927-79.

The papers begin with twelve folders of Clemens's Writings , including the corrected page proof of his most popular title, My Cousin Mark Twain; corrected galleys for two numbers of the International Mark Twain Society's biographical series; and the manuscripts of a review and two articles published in the Overland Monthly.

The rest of the papers are arranged by subject and begin with photocopies of family correspondence and printed papers. These include a May 1864 letter from Orion Clemens, Mark Twain's brother, to T. S. Parvin; and a joint letter from Mark Twain and his wife to Miss Boland, who was to become Cyril Clemens's mother, upon her engagement to James Ross Clemens in 1899. The family printed papers contain biographical information about Clemens.

As president of the International Mark Twain Society, Clemens wrote to many well-known public figures, including Sigmund Freud, Ernest Hemingway, Ogden Nash, Richard M. Nixon, Mohamed Anwar El Sadat, George Bernard Shaw, and William Howard Taft, informing them that they had been elected Knights of Mark Twain by the Society. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, and Robert Frost also received the Mark Twain Medal. Copies of their letters of acceptance and an inscription by Ezra Pound are arranged alphabetically and are followed by printed papers generated by the Society, such as brochures, bookplates, and tear sheets from the Mark Twain Journal.

Clemens also asked famous friends and acquaintances to send him their remembrances of Mark Twain. The last folder contains copies of tributes from Thomas Edison, Lyndon Johnson, Helen Keller, Benito Mussolini, Eugene O'Neill, and Alice B. Toklas; magazine excerpts; and a typescript by P. O. Selby on "The Langdon-Clemens Grave Plot."


  • 1864-1979 (inclusive)


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Cyril Clemens Papers are the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Cyril Clemens, 1969-82.

Associated Materials

The Beinecke Library also owns a collection of pamphlets by and about Cyril Clemens and books donated and annotated by Clemens. These materials are catalogued separately.


0.5 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers contain writings, correspondence, and printed materials about Mark Twain.


Cyril Coniston Clemens, son of James Ross and Katherine Boland Clemens and cousin of Mark Twain, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 14, 1902. After attending Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut, he continued his education at St. Louis University High School and received his A.B. and M.A. degrees from Washington University (St. Louis). He married Nan B. Shallcross on October 8, 1933. [Selby, P. O. 116 Short Biographies of Persons Associated with Mark Twain, 1970, p.4.]

Clemens founded the International Mark Twain Society in 1930 and edited the Mark Twain Quarterly, which later became the Mark Twain Journal, from 1936-82. His most popular biography, My Cousin Mark Twain, was published in 1939, followed by The Man from Missouri: A Biography of Harry S. Truman in 1945. He also wrote a number of short biographies which were published by the International Mark Twain Society, 1932-70, including sketches of Thomas Hardy, A. E. Housman, George Santayana, and Lytton Strachey.

Guide to the Cyril Clemens Papers
Under Revision
by Karen V. Peltier
March 1987
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.