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How Nancy Jackson Married Kate Wilson and Other Tales of Rebellious Girls and Daring Young Women

Mark Twain

Publication Year: 2001

Boyhood is the most familiar province of Mark Twain's fiction, but a reader doesn't have to look far to find feminine territory—and it's not the perfectly neat and respectable place where you'd expect to see Becky Thatcher. This is a fictional world where rather than polishing their domestic arts and waiting for marriage proposals, girls are fighting battles, riding stallions, rescuing boys from rivers, cross-dressing, debating religion, hunting, squaring off against angry bulls, or, in what may be the most flagrant flouting of Victorian convention, marrying other women.
This special edition brings together the best of Twain's stories about unconventional girls and women, from Eve as she names the animals in Eden to Joan of Arc to the transvestite farce of a young man named Alice from the Wapping district of London. Whatever they're doing—bopping boys with a baseball bat in "Hellfire Hotchkiss," treating the author to a life story and a dogsled ride in "The Esquimau Maiden's Romance," or sacrificing all for the sake of a horse, as in "A Horse's Tale"—these women and girls are surprising, provocative, and irresistibly entertaining in the great Twain tradition in which they now finally take their rightful place.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-x

This edition brings together for the first time Mark Twain’s stories that feature girls and independent, unmarried young women. Although Twain wrote adolescent female fiction principally between 1895 and 1905, his earliest piece of that genre was published...

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pp. xi-xvi

Until very recently Mark Twain’s portraits of female characters have been dismissed as stereotypical. Critics have generally faulted him for neglecting to create authentic portraits of young women, and in their place presenting colorful portraits of widows...

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Lucretia Smith’s Soldier

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pp. 1-7

Twain completed ‘‘Lucretia Smith’s Soldier’’ in 1864 and published it that year in the 3 December issue of the Californian, a San Francisco literary magazine edited by Bret Hart and Charles Henry Webb. Like ‘‘Aurelia’s Unfortunate Young Man,’’ this...

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Aurelia’s Unfortunate Young Man

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pp. 9-13

‘‘Aurelia’s Unfortunate Young Man’’ was first published under the title ‘‘Whereas’’ in the San Francisco Californian on 22 October 1864. Twain later shortened this initial newspaper version and included it in the British edition of...

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A Mediæval Romance

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pp. 15-24

Charles L. Crowe considers ‘‘A Mediæval Romance’’ a burlesque that indulges the Victorian attraction to manipulative plots and historical romances in the tradition of Sir Walter Scott (LeMaster and Wilson, 505). To these popular conventions, Twain...

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The Esquimau Maiden’s Romance

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pp. 25-42

Twain and his family were living near Florence, Italy, and elsewhere in Europe in 1893, and his writing during this period was driven by the need to maximize his income and avoid financial ruin as, one after another, his business investments turned unprofitable...

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Hellfire Hotchkiss

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pp. 43-69

Twain wrote the opening three chapters of this unfinished manuscript circa 1897. It remained unpublished until 1967 when it appeared in Mark Twain’s Satires and Burlesques. For his setting Twain returns to the familiar Mississippi River village of Dawson’s...

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A Story without an End

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pp. 71-80

Sometimes referred to as ‘‘John Brown and Mary Taylor,’’ this ‘‘storiette’’ was probably written in 1896 and was published without title in Following the Equator (1897). In the opening paragraphs Twain challenges his readers to participate in a contest, the goal...

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Wapping Alice

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pp. 81-104

This unconventional ‘‘girl’’ story began in 1877 with a malfunctioning burglar alarm. When the Clemenses built their lavish Victorian residence in Hartford, Connecticut, three years earlier, they had a burglar alarm installed that connected all the windows...

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How Nancy Jackson Married Kate Wilson

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pp. 105-123

Almost nothing is known about the composition of this story. Twain probably worked on ‘‘Nancy Jackson’’ circa 1902, but never attempted to publish the controversial tale (which is also known as ‘‘Feud Story and the Girl Who Was Ostensibly a Man’’). It was...

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A Horse’s Tale

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pp. 125-179

In September 1905 Twain decided, after repeated requests by the actress and animal rights activist Minnie Maddern Fiske, to write a story exposing the cruelty and violence of bullfighting. He became emotionally caught up in writing the tale, though it took...

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Eve’s Diary

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pp. 181-197

Eve’s Diary (1906) is just one of a number of works in which Twain explores dimensions of Eve’s character, her relation to God and Adam, her life in the Garden before the Fall, and her life afterward. Twain’s other principal Eve texts are Eve Speaks (1923) and...

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Saint Joan of Arc

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pp. 199-213

Although it is difficult to separate myth from historical accounts, it is generally accepted that Joan of Arc, an illiterate peasant girl from Domrémy, France, commanded the French armies and, with great courage and tactical skill, forced the defeat and...

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Little Bessie

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pp. 215-227

Twain began work on ‘‘Little Bessie’’ in February 1908 during a yachting trip off the Bermuda coast with his good friend and financial advisor, H. H. Rogers. The cover sheet of the typescript contains the following note, written in Twain’s hand: ‘‘It is dull, & I need...

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Mark Twain, Rebellious Girls, and Daring Young Women

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pp. 229-249

Fondly recalling his daughters’ teenage years, Samuel Clemens between 1895 and 1910 made friendships with adolescent girls, his ‘‘Angel-Fish,’’ and created a host of young female protagonists in his fiction. Some connections between the Angel-Fish, Twain’s...

Works Cited

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pp. 251-252

Suggestions for Further Reading

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pp. 253-254


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pp. 255

E-ISBN-13: 9780803202399
E-ISBN-10: 0803202393

Page Count: 255
Publication Year: 2001

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Humorous stories, American.
  • Young women -- Fiction.
  • Girls -- Fiction.
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