Best of Both Worlds

Most people can agree that author Mark Twain is a phenomenal writer. His works, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are globally recognized as excellent pieces of literature. Some people aren’t aware, however, of the fact that Twain also had his own publishing firm. He deemed the publishing houses he came in contact with inadequate, so he founded one himself in 1884, naming it Charles L. Webster and Company, after his business agent.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer reaped considerable profit after being published under his firm, which he had initially hoped for. He was hoping to gain many rewards being both an author and a publisher. In 1885, his firm also published the autobiography Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, which became a bestseller and brought both Twain and Grant more than a sufficient amount of money.

After both of these successes, unfortunately, the firm was not able to produce anything that came close to the previous publications. Twain increased his efforts, pouring money and time into his firm. Many books seemed promising, such as the biography of Pope Leo XIII, but none lived up to Twain’s expectations. His firm was going downhill, and it seemed to be taking him with it. In 1894, the firm finally declared bankruptcy, as Twain failed to revive its old accomplishments.

His inability to keep his publishing firm afloat left him in personal debt as well. From 1895 to 1898, he was busy trying to pay off those debts. Throughout his life, however, he remained a successful author, writing books such as Innocents Abroad and Life on the Mississippi.
Though he ultimately failed as a publisher, he became a legend as a writer.

Sources:
http://www.marktwainmuseum.org/index.php/research/twains-life-and-works
http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/twain/exhibition/webster/index.html

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