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Author`s name Michael Simpson

Twain's Unknown Play Discovered

Specialists say it is no doubt that the newly found play was written by Mark Twain
Unknown play written by Mark Twain was found in the archives of the University of California at Berkeley. Pages of the play under the title "Is He Dead?" became an unexpected discovery made by Shelly Fisher Fishkin, the scholar studying Twain's works. The scholar has been searching the extensive Twain archives at UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library  for two years to collect materials for her book about the writer.

The play "Is He Dead?" has never been mentioned, published or staged before; it is quite natural that no extracts from the play were ever seen.

Shelly Fisher Fishkin says that she noticed some unknown text when she studied the texts of Twain's plays kept in the Berkeley archives. In her words, the newly discovered play is a wonderful sample of Twain's works, it is great pleasure to read the play, the scholar says.

Although the writer composed the play during one of the hardest periods of his life, the text is very easy to read. The three-act play is a humorous story about a group of poor French artists who feigned death of one of them in order to ask for a higher price for his works. Mark Twain finished the comedy in January 1898. Shortly before that he had hard times: his daughter had died shortly before that, and the author himself was deep in debt.

Specialists say it is no doubt that the newly found play was written by Mark Twain. Publication of the comedy in a bulletin of the California University is scheduled for October; it is not ruled out that the play may be staged very soon. For the time being, Shelly Fisher Fishkin is negotiating staging of the play on Broadway with producer Bob Boyett.

Scholar Shelly Fisher Fishkin is the editor of the Oxford collection of Mark Twain's works of 29 volumes and a professor at the University of Texas.

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