The Cyril Clemens Manuscript Collection documents the activities of Clemens and his International Mark Twain Society, of which he was the driving force and after a time the sole active member. His approaches to world notables whom he tried to enlist as Society members, his tireless attempts to promote the Society and the fame of his kinsman Mark Twain, and his own literary efforts are all reflected here.
The collection also provides insight into the changing circumstances of St. Louisans of prominent old families, whose dedication to genteel living, social intercourse, and the arts sometimes collided with the realities of life in the 20th century. The papers left to Cyril Clemens by his parents, James Ross Clemens and Katharine Boland Clemens, both talented individuals with literary ambitions of their own, chronicle their own attempts at coming to terms with a rapidly changing world as well as their forebears' seemingly more secure and leisured existences. XXX
The collection contains items dating from 1632 to 1995, with the bulk of the material covering the years between 1890 and 1960.
The largest series, Correspondence, includes not only Cyril Clemens' letters to and from prominent figures but also much correspondence of the Clemens, Boland, and Shallcross families. The Autographs Series supplements those famous signatures found on many of the letters. The Postcards Series composed of blank cards complements the postcards found in the Correspondence section, providing historic views of St. Louis and other American cities, American hotels and restaurants, and European travel destinations.
The Clippings Series contains news of Cyril Clemens, his Mark Twain Society, and the activities of his parents James Ross Clemens and Katharine Boland Clemens. It also includes many articles on Mark Twain's life and work, some of them contemporary. The Diaries Series offers Bryan Mullanphy Clemens' colorful recounting of his and his son James Ross Clemens' experiences in London at the turn of the century as the younger man pursued a medical education. Among the diaries, too, are Katharine Boland Clemens' observations on the genesis and reception of her autobiography, Gardens and Books. Cyril Clemens' diaries are much like commonplace books, containing more quotations and notes than events in Clemens' life. The Scrapbooks Series provides better evidence of the daily activities of Cyril Clemens, and also illuminates the dual professions of doctor and dramatist James Ross Clemens. The scrapbooks cover the life and work of Mark Twain as well. XXX
The Manuscript Series encompasses many plays by James Ross Clemens along with some of Cyril Clemens' pages for works he wrote about Mark Twain. There are also complete manuscripts by A.S.M. Hutchinson, Eden Phillpotts, and Sigrid Undset. The Pamphlets and Publications Series reflects Cyril Clemens' interest in literature, politics, history, travel, and the Catholic religion. They contain many items specifically related to St. Louis, such as the Art Exhibit of Fashion for 1882, a booklet and a Harper's Weekly article on the tornado of 1896, St. Louis of To-day (1888), St. Louis through a Camera (1899), and a monograph on Saint Louis University graduate and religious painter C. (Charles) Bosseron Chambers.