By Stacy Lee
Long before she was its president, The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens had been a part of Laura Skandera Trombley’s life.
When she was growing up in Southern California, she often traveled to the San Marino cultural institution. “When I was a little girl, I would come here with my mother and run in the Rose Garden,” she said. “We’ve had tea here.”
Later on in life, Trombley utilized The Huntington’s Library to perform research. “When I was a Ph.D student as USC, I came here to do research in the 80s and I’ve been back since to do more research,” she said. “I still continued to work in my chosen field of Mark Twain.”
Trombley’s long-time studies on Mark Twain began when she was a student at the University of Southern California.
“It was really kismet,” she said. “My professor at USC just out of the blue was contacted by a retired businessman who claimed that he had 100 letters that Twain had written and wanted a bit of advice on what to do with them. My professor called me and suggested that I meet with him, and I did.”
Trombley said that man happened to buy those 100 letters for $100 at a hobby shop in downtown Los Angeles.
“He had them for quite some time because he didn’t recognize S.L. Clemens,” she said, explaining that S.L. Clemens was Twain’s birth name.
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