Almost exactly one year later, on 24 June 1950, Wecter died unexpectedly at age forty-four, having completed only the early years of his projected biography, later published by his widow as (1952). The papers remained in the Berkeley library, without an editor in charge, until 1953, when Henry Nash Smith was persuaded to join the Berkeley English department, and to accept a half-time appointment as Mark Twain's fourth literary editor.
But his major project was a definitive biography based largely on these documents, to which he had exclusive access. Partly because of that project, he was disinclined to grant others much access to the papers, and he was opposed to one of DeVoto's projects, a complete collection of Mark Twain's letters, at least until his biography had been published.
Mark Twain's will assigned all his property to his only surviving daughter, Clara Clemens Gabrilowitsch (later Samossoud), with the important provision that it be held in trust to provide income for her. (Mark Twain did not distrust his daughter so much as he doubted her ability to withstand avaricious suitors.)
Clara could not sell the papers or even give them away without the consent of her trustees: she could only transfer ownership through her own will. That is why the core of the Mark Twain Papers remained largely intact forty years after his death, despite having wandered from library to library before coming to rest, in 1949, at the University of California, Berkeley.
"Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences" first appeared in the North American Review in July 1895 and was later collected in How to Tell a Story, and Other Essays, by Mark Twain, 1897.
Pathfinder showed off handsomely that day before the ladies. His very first feat was a thing which no Wild West show can touch. He was standing with the group of marksmen, observing--a hundred yards from the target, mind; one Jasper raised his rifle and drove the centre of the bull's-eye. Then the Quartermaster fired. The target exhibited no result this time. There was a laugh. "It's a dead miss," said Major Lundie. Pathfinder waited an impressive moment or two; then said, in that calm, indifferent, know-it-all way of his, "No, Major, he has covered Jasper's bullet, as will be seen if any one will take the trouble to examine the target."
Three of the graduate student editors from the 1960s are still at work in the Mark Twain Project, providing the continuity and experience that are invaluable for such a project, and that have enabled it to steadily improve the quality of the editions it produces. Resident editors routinely work with so-called “outside” editors, either from the original Iowa group or from later generations, and the Project has been supported by grants from NEH and matching private gifts for forty years.
He also enlarged the scope of the edition, making it for the first time explicitly comprehensive, aimed at collecting and editing everything of significance that Mark Twain wrote. But merging Works and Papers did not create a larger staff at Berkeley; it meant instead that both series of books had to share the time available from the existing group of resident editors.
In 1980, Robert H. Hirst, who had been one of those graduate students from 1967 to 1978, succeeded Anderson as the editor in charge of the Mark Twain Papers. At the behest of NEH, he merged the Works and Papers series into one edition, supported by one biennial grant, with one editorial board. He called it the Mark Twain Project.
Victor Fischer, Buddy Stein, Paul Baender, and (seated) Claude Simpson, inspector for the CEAA,
August 1968 in the Mark Twain Papers, Berkeley.
But, as a matter of principle, the USOE decided to place the editorial work it supported in the public domain, which obliged Harper & Row, a commercial publisher, to withdraw from the project. On 27 August 1968 the , which had already published three volumes in the Mark Twain Papers series, agreed also to publish what became known as the Iowa–California Works of Mark Twain, whose individual editors worked with the Iowa Center for Textual Studies to prepare and annotate the texts. The original estimate was that it would take four years to produce all twenty-two volumes, but that proved optimistic, and the first volume, , did not appear until 1972.
The original editors of the Iowa Works of Mark Twain. Front Row, left to right: Hennig Cohen, Warner Barnes, Walter Blair, Gladys C. Bellamy, Roger B. Salomon. Middle Row: Edwin Barber of Harper & Row, William B. Todd, Arlin Turner, William M. Gibson, Franklin R. Rogers, Allan C. Bates. Back Row: Howard G. Baetzhold, Hamlin L. Hill, James D. Williams, Louis J. Budd, John C. Gerber, Paul Baender, Edgar Marquess Branch, Albert E. Stone, and Frederick Anderson. Absent: Roger Asselineau, Leon T. Dickinson, Paul Fatout, and Lewis Leary. Date: 10 or 11 July 1964, Iowa City, Iowa.
One year before the contract for the Papers series was signed, in the fall of 1961, John C. Gerber, Walter Blair, Paul Baender, William M. Gibson, William B. Todd, and seventeen other scholars set out to create a twenty-two-volume edition of Mark Twain's published works. The work was funded by a grant from the United States Office of Education (USOE) and it was to be published by Harper & Row.