While in London in 1897, Mark Twain was commissioned by William Randolph Hearst to report for the San Francisco Examiner on the sixtieth anniversary of Queen Victoria’s ascension to the throne. Evoking historical detail reminiscent of passages in The Prince and the Pauper and Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, Twain compares the jubilee to his own original and imaginative account of the 1415 celebration following the English victory at Agincourt, and he also reflects on the rapid changes in the British Empire during the Victorian age.
The two-part coverage of the Diamond Jubilee appeared in the newspaper on June 20 and 23 and was reprinted in other Hearst papers shortly afterward. In 1910—the year of Twain’s death—the article was privately printed in a limited edition of 195 numbered books, and although it is not known whether this book version had Twain’s official sanction, a copy today can sell for several thousand dollars. The essay had not been readily available until this month, when it was included in the newly published Library of America volume of Mark Twain’s travel writings, and both parts are offered here for our readers’ enjoyment.