Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain, First Edition, Later State, 1883

Twain, Mark, Life on the Mississippi. Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1883. First edition, later state. Illustrated. Bound by Whitman Bennett of New York in 3/4 brown leather and cloth boards with gilt titles and tooling.  

A first edition, later state printing of Mark Twain’s “Life on the Mississippi”. Published in 1883 by James R. Osgood, the book is a memoir of Twain’s days as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River before the start of the Civil War. Filled with anecdotes and sketches from his training as the 'cub' of an experienced pilot, Twain offers readers a uniquely American perspective of the history, science, and stories of navigating the ever-changing Mississippi River.

The second half of the book functions as a sort of travel journal, recounting a trip Twain took on a steamboat many years later after the War. Journeying along the Mississippi River from St. Louis to New Orleans, he describes the competition from railroads, the new cities now dotting the riverbanks, and adds his observations on greed, gullibility, tragedy, and architecture.

It is this background material, an amalgam of anecdotes, sketches, and history, from which Mark Twain wrote his finest novel, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn". "Life on the Mississippi” is an epochal record of America’s growth.


In very good condition. Rebound in 3/4 brown leather and cloth binding with gilt titles on spine and raised bands. Binding by Whitman Bennett, N.Y. Copyright page has S. L. Clemens’ trademark. Illustrated throughout with 316 illustrations. The original brown cloth and black and gilt embossed front boards and spine are tipped into the back of the book. First edition, later state, with tailpiece of Twain in flames on p.441 still present but caption on p.443 corrected to read “The St. Charles Hotel.” Interior pages are healthy. 

Dimensions: 8 7/8"H x 7 1/4"W x 2"D

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