Document Type


Publication Date


Department 1



In May of 1897, Mark Twain was in London finishing up an around-the-world speaking tour he had started two years earlier. He got there right after his cousin, James Ross Clemens, who had fallen ill while visiting London a couple of weeks earlier. In a letter he wrote on May 31, Twain addressed rumors saying that he had fallen deathly ill and had even died. "I can understand perfectly how the report of my illness got about," he said, adding: "I have even heard on good authority that I was dead." It was his cousin's illness that was ascribed to Twain; in fact, Twain had never been ill, and was certainly not dead. "The report of my illness grew out of his illness," he said, referring to his cousin's bout with bad health. "The report of my death was an exaggeration." [excerpt]


This piece appeared on Education Week as part of Dr. Powell's opinion blog, "The K-12 Contrarian." The original version is available online here.