Posted on 12/31/2019 at 10:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Need help finding something? Ask a librarian.

That’s what scholars searching for half of an early draft of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn should’ve done.

Because, as it turns out, a librarian was the one who unearthed the manuscript — in her long-dead grandfather’s old steamer trunk, stored in her attic.

That librarian, Barbara Testa, died December 16, decades after the 1990 discovery launched her out of anonymity, reports the New York Times.

Testa’s grandfather was an avid literary collector back in the late 1800s, and he’d persuaded Twain to send the first version of Huck Finn to him.

Twain sent the pages in two chunks; Testa’s grandfather donated one of those bundles to a library, along with hundreds of other bookish keepsakes, but either forgot or decided not to send the other parcel, according to the Times’ obituary.

Testa’s daughter told the paper that her mother was indeed rooting around for interesting (and potentially lucrative) finds in the attic that fateful day in 1990, but that the Twain draft was completely unexpected.

Read the Times’ obituary of Testa to find out what happened to the Huck Finn pages and what scholars learned from it.

(And P.S.: The whole manuscript has been digitized, so you can view it online.)

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