[CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne "Mark Twain"]. MILLER, Olive Thorne. True Bird Stories from my Note-Books. Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, 1903.
8o. Frontispiece and 8 plates (one plate detached). (Front blanks and list of books by Olive Thorne Miller detached from textblock). Orginal decorated cloth, mounted pictorial label on front cover (hinge cracked, some soiling). Provenance: Jean Clemens (1880-1909) (presentation inscription from her father, Samuel Clemens, on front pastedown), donated to; The Mark Twain Library, Redding Connecticut (ink stamp on front pastedown and a few leaves).
JEAN CLEMENS' COPY WITH A FINE PRESENTATION INSCRIPTION FROM HER FATHER: "To Jean Clemens with her father's love. Sept. 1903. It is never too late to mend. There's plenty of time. M.T." Jane Lampton Clemens, named after her paternal grandmother but always called Jean, was Clemens' youngest daughter. Her health was delicate after suffering from scarlet fever at age two, and in 1906, she was given in a house and some property at one corner of Clemens' estate in Redding, Connecticut in order to be close to him. Upon her tragic death on Christmas Eve 1909 after an epileptic seizure, her house and property were sold. The $6000 proceeds from this sale were donated to the Mark Twain Library Association for the erection of its first library building named the Jean L. Clemens Memorial Building, and several books from his personal library graced the library shelves. This copy, donated by Clara Clemens in 1910, was likely deaccessioned sometime in the 1950s when the Mark Twain Library conducted a series of sales.
Twain's fine inscription is made all the more poignant by his advice to Jean that it is never too late to mend. This is clearly a reference to her epilepsy from which she suffered much of her life; she was in and out of sanitariums several times when Clemens became unable to care for her after the death of his wife Olivia in 1904. Her health had been improving in the happy years she lived in Redding with Clemens, who took her death very hard. Too ill himself to attend her funeral in Elmira, he instead wrote "The Death of Jean," the last substantial work he ever completed.