Tom Sawyer Abroad/A Note on the Text

A Note on the TextEdit

Three versions of Tom Sawyer Abroad appeared in 1893-4. They are:

All three ultimately derive from the author's typescript, but the first two suffered heavily at the hands of St. Nicholas editor Mary Mapes Dodge. She excised material in a manner that infuriated Mark Twain, as well as adding some lines of her own. "God Almighty Himself has no right to put words in my mouth that I never used," Mark Twain is said to have exclaimed in this connection. References to religion, perspiration, and death, among others, were ruthlessly cut out.[1]

Mark Twain made a point of instructing his publisher, Charles L. Webster & Co., not to set copy from the St. Nicholas version, but to follow his typescript. Apparently these instructions didn't arrive until after the first nine chapters had been printed, as they follow the altered version closely, and not the authoritative typescript. The final four chapters, however, depart from the St. Nicholas version in favor of the typescript, creating several inconsistencies when material excised from the first nine chapters is referred to in the last four.[2]

Terry Firkins established a definitive text based on Mark Twain's manuscript collated with all three printed editions; this appeared in 1980, and is still in copyright. Of the public domain versions, only the Chatto & Windus edition, published in Great Britain, followed the author's copy throughout. For this reason the text here is transcribed from that edition, rather than the Webster or St. Nicholas versions. English spellings, however (e.g. "colour" rather than "color"), have not been retained.


  1. Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer Detective, University of California Press, 1982, pp. 189-190.
  2. "Textual Introduction to Tom Sawyer Abroad" in The Works of Mark Twain, volume 4, University of California Press, 1980, pp. 621-629.