Access to texts, notes, and facsimiles available online at no charge to institutions or individuals

University of California is pleased to announce the launch of the beta version of the Mark Twain Project Online (www.marktwainproject.org), a digital critical edition of the writings of Mark Twain.

The Mark Twain Project Online (MTPO) applies innovative technology to more than four decades of archival research by expert editors at the Mark Twain Project.  It offers unfettered, intuitive access to reliable texts, accurate and exhaustive notes, and the most recently discovered letters and documents.

MTPO is a joint undertaking of the Mark Twain Papers and Project, the California Digital Library, and University of California Press.  It is funded in part by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to the Mark Twain Project, and is supported by a number of institutions and individuals.  The Mark Twain Foundation, a perpetual charitable trust that possesses the publication rights to all of Mark Twain’s writings, has given UC Press and the Mark Twain Project Online exclusive rights to publish copyright-protected writings by Mark Twain, both in print and electronically.

At beta launch, the site will include more than twenty-three hundred letters written between 1853 and 1880, including nearly 100 facsimiles of originals.  Users will also be able to search for information about Mark Twain’s complete correspondence across his entire life, including letters to him and his family. In future years, the site will release more of the nearly ten thousand known letters, including many never-before published; electronic editions of many of Mark Twain’s most famous literary works; the most complete catalog of Mark Twain’s writings currently available; and, in 2010, Mark Twain’s Autobiography, never before published in its complete form.

"The Mark Twain Project Online is an extraordinary resource for scholars, teachers, and ordinary readers.  Materials that previously could be examined only by scholars fortunate enough to be able to visit the Mark Twain Project in The Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley will now be available worldwide to anyone with an interest in Mark Twain—and that’s a cause for celebration," Shelley Fisher Fishkin, author of Lighting Out for the Territory: Reflections on Mark Twain and American Culture, said.

The customizable interface provides a powerful reading and research experience.  The site offers users unprecedented access to authoritative transcriptions of Mark Twain’s writings and the ability to compare those transcriptions side by side with facsimiles when available. Researchers can gather and store digital citations and links to selected documents, images, and other resources.  These features are supported, in large part, by the California Digital Library’s eXtensible Text Framework (XTF) and the ongoing work of the Textual Encoding Initiative (TEI).

The Mark Twain Project Online demonstrates the great advantages of digital presentation and will be a model for future digital scholarly work.  “The Mark Twain Project Online is an exciting initiative that will make a fundamental literary and biographical archive available to scholars and students.  MTPO offers easy access through a sophisticated web interface that is growing and comprehensive scope.  This project has the potential to become a model for Web accessibility to foundational scholarly resources,” Richard Terdiman, author of Body and Story: The Ethics and Practice of Theoretical Conflict, said.

View the Mark Twain Project Online and access information about the making of this landmark online publication, by visiting http://www.marktwainproject.org.  You can also contact Catherine Mitchell (Catherine.Mitchell@ucop.edu; 510.587.6132), Acting Director of CDL’s eScholarship Publishing Group for additional information.