This collection offers a sense of Huckleberry Finn's 19th-century context by linking the text to the first-edition illustrations, covers, and early reviews. You can see Huck surrounded by the images that shaped its initial readers' first impressions in 1885.
Many of the images you will see come from rare holdings in the University of Virginia's Clifton Waller Barrett Collection. E.W. Kemble's illustrations were scanned from the London first edition in the collection; the London and New York first edition covers also come from the Barrett collection. (Chatto & Windus' London edition came out in December 1884, two months before Charles L. Webster published the New York edition. The editions were produced under Twain's close guidance from the same manuscript and with the same illustrations. The university holds copies of both first editions.) The obscene illustration comes from the only remaining sales prospectus with the marred drawing intact, also in the university's collection. The photo of Twain comes from an 1884 print in the university's collection. The text was scanned from the Harper & Bros. 1912 edition.
This hypertext also offers full transcripts of many of the early reviews from newspapers and magazines across the country. Early reviews were drawn from the extensive research of Twain scholar Victor Fischer, who uncovered dozens of previously unknown reviews in the mid-1980s. (See: Victor Fischer, "Huck Finn Reviewed: The Reception of Huckleberry Finn in the United States, 1885-1897," American Literary Realism, XVI: 1 (Spring 1983).
Created by Virginia H. Cope for a graduate-level course in 19th-century literature, under the supervision of Prof. Stephen Railton, University of Virginia Department of English, and David Seaman, director of the university's Electronic Text Center.
Most text and images © Copyright 1995 by Virginia Cope and The University of Virginia Library. All rights reserved. Please see our Conditions of Use.