January 24, 2017
Never before published Mark Twain fairy tale to be published by Doubleday
by Chad Felix
A new story by beloved American writer (and Melville House author) Mark Twain, his only one intended specifically for children, will be published by Doubleday on September 26, 2017, the 150th anniversary of Twain’s first published work, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches, reports The Guardian’s Danuta Kean.
The tale, entitled The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, is “based on handwritten notes by Twain of a story told to his young daughters one night in Paris in 1879. In the story, a young boy who can talk to animals recruits some creatures to help him save a kidnapped prince.” According to the publisher, it “explores themes of charity, kindness and bravery in the face of tyranny, with sharply drawn satire and touching pathos.”
That’s our Mark Twain!
The sixteen handwritten pages that comprise The Purloining were discovered in 2011 at the University of California at Berkeley, where they were hiding in plain sight in the Mark Twain Papers & Project. Those pages made their way into the hands of the author and illustrator team Philip and Erin Stead, who, working with associate publishing director at Random House Books for young readers Frances Gilbert, prepared the book for publication.
Mark Twain was known to make up bedtime stories for his children—Langdon, Susy, Clara, and Jean—on the spot. The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine is believed to be the only kids’ bedtime tale that he later wrote down.
Chad Felix is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House, and a former bookseller.