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Twain's End

About the Book

Twain's End

In March of 1909, Mark Twain cheerfully blessed the wedding of his private secretary, Isabel V. Lyon and his business manager, Ralph Ashcroft. One month later, he fired both. He proceeded to write a ferocious 429-page rant about the pair, calling Isabel “a liar, a forger, a thief, a hypocrite, a drunkard, a sneak, a humbug, a traitor, a conspirator, a filthy-minded & salacious slut pining for seduction.” Twain and his daughter, Clara Clemens, then slandered Isabel in the newspapers, erasing her nearly seven years of devoted service to the family. Isabel Lyon has gone down in history as the villainess who swindled Twain in his final decade. She never rebutted Twain’s claims, never spoke badly of the man she called “The King.” She kept her silence until she died in a tiny Greenwich Village apartment in 1958, although the actor Hal Holbrook met with her often while developing his Mark Twain show, acknowledging that Isabel knew Twain better than anyone else in the world. How did Lyon go from being the beloved secretary who ran Twain’s life to a woman whom he was determined to destroy?

On January 11, 1909, Helen Keller, her teacher Anne Sullivan Macy, and Mrs. Macy’s husband, John, visit Mark Twain in the Connecticut mansion built for him by his secretary, Isabel Lyon. The trio, themselves in the middle of an intolerable love triangle, unknowingly walk into a crisis brewing between Twain and Isabel, and worsened by his business manager, Ralph Ashcroft. Then Clara Clemens enters, on a mission to fight for her paramour and accompanist on the piano, the very married Will Wark, setting off an explosion between all the lovers. Based on Isabel Lyon’s extant diary, Twain’s writings and letters, and events in Twain’s boyhood which may have altered his ability to love, TWAIN’S END explores this real-life tale of doomed love.

Twain's End
by Lynn Cullen

  • Publication Date: June 7, 2016
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • ISBN-10: 1476758972
  • ISBN-13: 9781476758978