East and West Meet in Twain
Elmira Star-Gazette
“From the last home of Mark Twain comes
an idea too good to get lost in the
shuffle of politics...”
Short overview of what we will be
speaking about. Background of our
relationship/projects and why it is of
interest that our efforts to promote
Twain in 2008, 2009 & 2010 mimic the
efforts of Brad Kelly’s in 1958, 1959 &
First, we would like to thank Alex and the
Boston University Editorial Institute for
the opportunity to be with you here this
afternoon. It truly is an honor.
Heather and I have been working together
since 2007 when I stopped over at MTL to
have a look at their photo archives for a
calendar project.
In 2008 we celebrated the 100th Anniversary of
Twain’s arrival in Redding, his final residence,
as well as the 100th Anniversary of the
Library’s founding.
I have been a Mark Twain Library patron
since childhood, but 2007 was the first
time I had seen the archives.
And as it turns out… one of the items that
caught my eye was an article about
Bradley Kelly’s quest to unite the USA &
USSR via Mark Twain.
Bradley Kelly’s Project
“I am hopeful, that the down to earth
American humor and satire of this great
writer will help pierce the Iron Curtain.
At least, it’s worth a try.”
-Bradley Kelly
Without this symposium, this information would
likely remain unknown.
Heather and I were a tad “Twained out” after
April 21st But seeing Alex’s post about the
Twain/Tolstoy Symposium reminded me of
Kelly’s project at the 50th Anniversary & the
parallels between his efforts and ours were
This presentation…at this symposium…at
this time…truly was meant to be.
That said, I’ll get started.
Bradley Kelly’s Project
Kelly’s idea was to celebrate the 50th
Anniversary of Mark Twain’s passing by
using him as an Ambassador of Good
Will to the Soviet Union.
“Here is a unique chance to show that
there is some common ground between
two ostensible enemies.”
Bradley Kelly’s Project
Kelly circulated Mark Twain themed issues
of Redding’s local newspaper, the
Redding Times, all over the World.
The first newspaper sent was the June
19, 1958 issue which celebrated the
50th Anniversary of Twain’s arrival in
Redding, Connecticut (06/18/1908)
Bradley Kelly’s Project
Yugoslavia was the first country to
respond with a thank you note, but it
was the letter that arrived from Russia
that confirmed all he had previously
believed about the Russians’ interest in
Mark Twain- and added to his beliefs.
Bradley Kelly’s Project
“I fully agree with you that cultural
communications between people of different
countries is one of the surest mediums of
maintaining peace…Twain is immensely
popular among Soviet people. His works have
been published & republished here in large
-A. Kuznetsov
Vice Chairman, Committee for Cultural
Relations with Foreign Countries
The Kelly’s Travel Overseas
Correspondence between Kelly and Kuznetsov
continued throughout 1959 & led to a special
European trip for Kelly & his wife. They
traveled to Ireland, Denmark, Norway,
Sweden, Finland, & the Soviet Union. They
were interviewed in every country they
“All over Europe, all over Scandinavia, I found a love
for Mark Twain as promoter of the little man.”
–Bradley Kelly
The Kelly’s Travel Overseas
The Kelly’s found that Mark Twain was by far
the Russian’s favorite author, easy topping
Hemingway, Faulkner, and Jack London.
Russian scholars informed them that there
was hardly a schoolboy that had not read:
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or A
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
Twain First Published in 1872
Mark Twain’s story, “The Celebrated Jumping
Frog of Calaveras County” was translated into
the Russian language in 1872 and “The
Gilded Age” was published immediately after
its release in America. The first collection of
Mark Twain’s productions was published in
1890 (11 volumes). The second edition was
printed in 1910 and a complete collection was
released in 1911 (28 volumes).
Moscow’s Lenin State Library
The highlight of the Kelly’s trip was an
afternoon in Moscow’s Lenin Library where
they found the catalog files on Mark Twain’s
works to 8 inches thick…
At that time, books, pamphlets & articles on
Twain covered hundreds of titles and over 11
million copies of his books had been
translated into 25 Russian languages.
Moscow’s Lenin State Library
Kelly was amazed by the library’s size and the
number of visitors:
“The library had close to 20 million books, is
open 7 days a week from 9am to 11pm and
on average sees 7,000 visitors a day.”
While they were there an exchange of English
volumes and Russian volumes was made.
America Amazed Russians
Love Mark Twain Too
The findings of Kelly were a big surprise here
in America. It was the first time an American
writer had been printed completely in two
Even more surprising was the fact that the
number of Russian printings exceeded
England and America’s totals combined!
America Amazed Russians
Love Mark Twain Too
“It isn’t merely government policy that makes
Twain a favorite in Russia, more than any
other American writer, Twain hits the chords
of the Russian people. The response to him is
Russian’s consider Mark Twain
“a voice of the little man.”
Twain’s Satire & Commentary
Twain’s works are filled with satire and social
commentary which became increasingly more
acidic in his later years and yet it is/was this
side of the great American author that is/was
most endearing to the Russian people. They
believed that Twain’s jibes at the American
society of his day apply to the United States
of America in the 1960’s.
Twain’s Satire & Commentary
His social commentary still applies today…
“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you
were a member of Congress. But I repeat
-Mark Twain, a Biography
The Cold War
“Now that Statesmanship and Brinkmanship
seem to be failing, it is time to try
Twainmanship to ease the tensions of the
Cold War.”
-Bradley Kelly
The next two slides show Kelly was right…
The Book Exchanges
The Book Exchange idea was well received, and
was embraced by all the Mark Twain
Memorials in the U.S. By December 1961
books had been exchanged between:
Redding, Connecticut
Hartford, Connecticut
Elmira, New York
Hannibal, Missouri
People to People
Initially the Kelly’s paid their own expenses as
the “unofficial ambassadors” of Twain.
In 1961, former President Dwight D.
Eisenhower’s organization “People to People”
appointed them as members and made their
expenses tax deductible.
The Legacy
Bradley Kelly died in 1968 but his project did
not. In fact, here today Heather and I are
completing the circle he began…and I can not
put into words how rewarding that is.
Book exchanges continued between the U.S.A.
and Russia into the 1980’s. All-in-all these
book exchanges had an impact, morphing
into a grassroots effort to peaceful
understanding between the two countries.
The Collection
8 titles in Russian and 2 in Ukrainian.
Russian : The Adventures of Tom Sawyer &
the Adventures of Huckleberry
Finn (2 different copies); The Prince and the
Pauper; A Connecticut Yankee;
Mark Twain (Life of Famous People series - 2
copies, 1958, 1964); Letters
from the Earth; & Mark Twain (fictional
Ukrainian: Mark Twain (bio); & The
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
The Legacy
What’s truly amazing with this project is that
this year, the 100th anniversary of Twain’s
passing, Heather and her staff have cataloged
this very special Russian collection and made
it available to the General Public.
Kelly had hoped that the book exchange would
continue and grow and here today at this
symposium we are attempting to make more
people aware of their existence.
The Legacy
To follow up on my story and give you some
background on the Mark Twain Library, the
Russian Book Collection, Twain’s Time in
Redding and the interesting Russian
connection Twain’s daughter Clara had… I
exit the spotlight and yield to my fellow
“Twainiac” Heather Morgan.
Mark Twain’s Library
When I became Director of the Mark Twain Library in
2002, it had only recently re-opened after an
extensive renovation. The old Cape-style building,
paid for through the generosity of Mark Twain, his
daughter Jean Clemens, his friend Andrew Carnegie,
and the townsfolk of Redding, remains an integral
part of the building today, and is now used for
programs, and to store our Mark Twain collection –
the books he gave to set up the first town library in
Redding; the books that contain his penciled
marginalia that still delights us today.
The Mystery of the
Russian Books
When prowling around my new library building, I
discovered many boxes still waiting to be unpacked –
most of them stored in the musty basement of the
original old building. I realized some had been there
for many years, and one of my discoveries was a
small collection of books, by and about Mark Twain,
that had been translated into Russian. I looked them
over, intrigued, but with much else to do, I placed
them in a cupboard, and almost forgot them.
The Newspaper Clippings
About a year later, I came across a file of
yellowing press cuttings that told the
delightful story of local resident, Bradley Kelly,
and his travels that had led to a gift of books,
in Russian, to the Mark Twain Library. On one
of his visits to Moscow Mr. Kelly took a
message from the Mark Twain Library in
Redding to the Director of the Leningrad
library. It was simply, “Let’s exchange
translations of Mark Twain’s works.”
Bradley Kelly
He believed that he could use Mark Twain as an
“ambassador” of good will to the Soviet Union, “Let
American and Russian libraries trade Mark Twain
material" he said, “No matter how much we may
differ in other areas, at least we can show the
Russians we agree with them on one subject – Mark
Twain”. It was appropriate that the proposal should
come from a resident of the small Connecticut town
where Mark Twain spent his last years.
The Russian Books
Now I had the answer to the mystery of the hidden
books. I brought them out of hiding, dusted them
down, catalogued them, and finally they were
returned to the library shelves. The cataloging was a
challenge as I know nothing of the Russian language,
but with the help of a Russian friend, and some
excellent work by a cataloger at our system
headquarters, we managed very well. The online
catalogue of the Mark Twain Library may be viewed
by anyone and everyone who visits our website, at
Redding & Mark Twain
It is little known that Mark Twain lived his last
years, from 1908 to 1910, in the little sleepy
town of Redding, Connecticut. He built a
splendid, Italian-style house on a hilltop
overlooking the Saugatuck River, wanting,
and needing, the peace of a country life,
declaring, “How beautiful it all is” upon his
Stormfield- Mark Twain’s final residence. Redding CT
Redding & Mark Twain
But he felt a little lonely; he missed his
friends, and the gaiety of life in New
York City. He was still grieving the loss
of his dear wife, Livy, who had died in
1904, he still missed his favorite
daughter, Susy, and he greatly missed
the happy days of being a father to
three adoring daughters when they
lived together in Hartford.
Redding & Mark Twain
But he loved his new home, which he named
“Stormfield”, and he set about making friends
among the farmers in Redding, and became a
regular sight walking the footpaths around his
country estate, or trotting along the roads in
his carriage, greeting friends and neighbors.
Redding & Mark Twain
He invited many guests to his new home, from
his old life and from his new. He was the
perfect host, and described himself as the
“perfect man … a border ruffian from the
state of Missouri, and a Connecticut Yankee
by adoption. In me, you have Missouri
morals, Connecticut culture; this, gentlemen,
is the perfect combination which makes the
perfect man”.
Helen Keller
Redding & Mark Twain
He took a keen interest in the community into
which he had moved, and decided it needed
a library. He wanted it to be a library for the
people, with no town government
interference, a place organized and
administered by people in the town. It
remains as such to this day. He convinced
residents to help him fundraise for a building,
which they whole-heartedly did.
Redding & Mark Twain
Mark Twain’s biggest, and most successful
fundraiser, was a concert held at his house,
where he played the part of master of
ceremonies, with singer, David Bispham, and
Ossip Gabrilowitsch playing the piano. Clara,
Mark Twain’s daughter, also sang that
evening, and later Ossip, who had know Clara
almost ten years, proposed marriage, and
was accepted. They were married at
Stormfield on October 6th 1909.
Clara’s Russian Connections
Gabrilowitsch was born in St. Petersburg in
February 1878. He was a piano prodigy as a
child, and studied under Rimsky-Korsakoff at
the St. Petersburg Conservatory. It was when
he was studying in Vienna in 1898 that he
first met Clara and the Clemens family.
Mark Twain admired his son-in-law, and was
happy to welcome him into his family.
Clara’s Wedding
Clara’s Russian Connections
In 1918 Gabrilowitsch became Director of the
new Symphony Orchestra in Detroit, where
he and Clara remained for the rest of his life.
He died in September 1936, and is buried at
the foot of Mark Twain in Woodlawn
Cemetery in Elmira, New York.
Clara’s Russian Connections
In May of 1944, Clara married again, to another
Russian musician, Jacques Samassoud, who,
unfortunately, spent her inheritance from her
father freely, which finally resulted in the sale
of many of Mark Twain’s manuscripts to pay
off debts.
Clara’s Russian Connections
In 1962, Clara wrote to Mr. Bradley Kelly in
Redding that she thought “it a superb idea to
harmonize the Russians and Americans
through their authors or any other possible
means”, and offered her “heartfelt sympathy”
with his great plan.
Redding’s Role in the
50th & 100th Anniversary
It is interesting that 50 years after Mark Twain’s
death, because a Redding resident had a
dream to help build a cultural exchange
between the United States and Russia,
that Mark Twain’s library was able to play a
major role. And that now, 100 years after his
death, we are gathered together to once
again celebrate the life of this great
American author, and that of a great
Russian author, Leo Tolstoy.
This presentation is over for now, I
thank you all for watching!!
Someone please have a whiskey &
a smoke for me.

Mapk Tbeh - History of Redding, Connecticut