Despite extensive scholarly work on Twain's early writing career, little detailed attention has been paid to the reception of the four books that followed the success of Innocents Abroad: Mark Twain's (Burlesque) Autobiography and First Romance, Roughing It, The Gilded Age, and Sketches New and Old. That is a significant omission because the public and private responses to these four books marked an important stage in the development of Twain's status and reputation. Twain followed the whirlwind success of Innocents with repeated attempts to produce books that would enhance his popularity and bring in substantial royalties. Unfortunately, none of the four he published was able to match Innocents in sales, and while common readers responded quite positively to Roughing It and The Gilded Age, the reception of all four books in the public sphere was at best mixed, producing a trying five years for Twain.

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