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Mark Twain manuscript reveals author’s pain at losing his daughter

Unpublished document exhibited to mark the centenary of the American author's death at the age of 74

Ed Pilkington
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 21 April 2010 22.43 BST

Mark Twain's passionate eulogy for his eldest daughter and muse, Susy - who died from spinal meningitis aged 24 - has surfaced in a manuscript in which he writes of her as being "full of fire".

The 64-page unpublished document, In Memory of Olivia Susan Clemens - and later called A Family Sketch - gives a touchingly intimate portrait of his daughter that readers of Twain's rambunctious adventure stories will find unfamiliar. From its opening lines he seeks to capture what he clearly felt deeply was her unique character.

"She was a magazine of feelings, & they were of all kinds & of all shades of force; & she was so volatile, as a little child, that sometimes the whole battery came into play in the short compass of a day. She was full of life, full of activity, full of fire, her waking hours were a crowding & hurrying procession of enthusiasms... Joy, sorrow, anger, remorse, storm, sunshine, rain, darkness - they were all there: They came in a moment, & they were gone as quickly.

"In all things she was intense: in her this characteristic was not a mere glow, dispensing warmth, but a consuming fire."

The manuscript was put on exhibition for the first time today to mark the centenary of Twain's death at age 74. It will be put up for auction by Sotheby's in New York in June as part of a batch of letters, photographs and manuscripts connected to Samuel Langhorne Clemens, Twain's real name.

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