Eve’s Diary is a comic short story by Mark Twain. It was first published in the 1905 Christmas issue of the magazine Harper’s Bazaar, and in book format in June 1906 by Harper and Brothers publishing house. It is written in the style of a diary kept by the first woman in the biblical creation story, Eve, and is claimed to be “translated from the original MS.” The book may have been written as a posthumous love-letter to Mark Twain’s wife Olivia Langdon Clemens, or Livy, who died in June 1904, just before the story was written. Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “Eve’s Diary is finished — I’ve been waiting for her to speak, but she doesn’t say anything more.” The story ends with Adam’s speaking at Eve’s grave, “Wherever she was, there was Eden.”
Eve’s Diary, page 3
The “plot” of this novel is the first-person account of Eve (modeled after his wife Livy) from her creation up to her burial by, her mate, Adam (based on Twain himself), including meeting and getting to know Adam, and exploring the world around her, Eden. The story then jumps 40 years into the future after the Fall and expulsion from Eden. It is one of a series of books Twain wrote concerning the story of Adam and Eve, including Extracts from Adam’s Diary, That Day In Eden, Eve Speaks, Adam’s Soliloquy, and the Autobiography of Eve. Eve’s Diary has a lighter tone than the others in the series, as Eve has a strong appreciation for beauty and love.
The book version of the story was published with 55 illustrations by Lester Ralph, on each left hand page. The illustrations depicted Eve and Adam in their natural settings. The depiction of an unclothed woman was considered pornographic when the book was first released in the United States, and created a controversy around the book. One library in Charlton, Massachusetts banned the book for the depictions of Eve in “summer costume.”
Mark Twain wrote Adam’s Diary at the Villa Viviani, near Florence, Italy, where the family had moved in late September 1892, after a summer at Bad Nauheim, Germany. There he wrote several works, including Those Extraordinary Twins which would later be rewritten as The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson. He began work on Adam’s Diary during December of 1892 as early in January 1893 he noted that both Pudd’nhead Wilson and Adam’s Diary had gone to the typist.
When the copy of Adam’s Diary was finished, Mark Twain sent it to Webster and Company manager Fred Hall on 13 March 1893, along with another recently completed story, Is He Living or Is He Dead?, suggesting that Hall try to place them with the Cosmopolitan or Century magazine. The diary he declared “a gem, if I do say it myself that shouldn’t”. Although turned down by both Cosmopolitan and Century, the diary finally found a place in The Niagara Book, a volume that Irving S. Underhill, the son of an old friend from Buffalo, was preparing in the hope of promoting Niagara Falls as a tourist attraction.
While the revisions of Adam’s Diary were made to include references to Niagara Falls, Mark Twain apparently never really liked the Niagara Falls portions of the story. In August 1895, near the beginning of his world lecture tour, he revised a copy of the Niagara Book piece, marking out the Niagara Falls passages and localized allusions and making a few additional changes.
He made further revisions as he was writing Eve’s Diary in order to publish both diaries as companion pieces. On 16 July he wrote to his daughter Clara: “This morning I gutted old Adam’s Diary & removed every blemish from it.” “Matters did not allow the publication until 1931, when Harper’s [sic] finally published them together as The Private Lives of Adam and Eve.”
Twain had long been fascinated with the story of our First Parents. Examples of literary works involving Adam include: Chapter 53 of The Innocents Abroad, where the narrator revels in “tumultuous emotions” at finding himself beside Adam’s tomb, and bewails that fact that neither of them had had the opportunity to know the other. And in 1877 Adam’s Expulsion, though not published until [The Bible According to Mark Twain], marked his first attempt to present Adam as an actual character and to delve into his motivations and reactions. Adam is based on Twain himself.
Many of Twain’s joking references to Adam are among his most outrageous remarks. When he thinks of a plight of his own, like unjust copyright laws, he is reminded of Adam: “Adam was the author of sin, and I wish he had taken out an international copyright on it. For international copyright could have won, then. But when there came to be two men, it was too late, because there was one to oppose it, and experience shows that that fellow would have had the most influence.”
Mark Twain wrote Eve’s Diary in Dublin, New Hampshire, in July 1905, following a visit from Harper editor Frederick Duneka, who suggested he write the story for the magazine’s Christmas issue. From the beginning he thought of the story as a companion piece to Adam’s Diary, with Eve using Adam’s record as her “unwitting and unconscious” text. That desire led to the revision of Adam’s Diary, as described earlier. Although Twain wanted both pieces to appear in Harper’s, Duneka rejected the idea, saying that they would be issued together in a single volume as soon as “matters” allowed doing the book properly, and that Eve’s Diary itself would go into the Christmas magazine.