An enduring mystery in Mark Twain's life concerns the events of his last decade, from 1900 to 1910, obscured by Twain himself and intentionally overlooked by his biographers. Eminent Twain scholar Laura Skandera Trombley suspected that his secretary Isabel Lyon—who had lived in the home with Twain and his daughters for years but was dismissed with scabrous condemnation by Twain just months before his death—had been a far more significant part of the story than was acknowledged. This book, the result of 16 years of research and Trombley's unprecedented access to the full archive of Lyon's journals, reveals how essential she had been to Twain's existence until the last few months of his life, and how well she understood the man she called "the King."
"Like Letters from the Earth, Twain continues to give long after his death. Now, we have Laura Trombley's fascinating narrative of his last days and his little-known relationship with Isabel Lyon. The pieces begin to fall into place; the funniest man on earth is revealed to be a much more complicated soul. It was Twain after all who said, 'The secret source of humor is not joy but sorrow; there is no humor in Heaven'."—Ken Burns