|Harper's April, 1895. Dover Press|
Joan of Arc or The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, by the Sieur Louis de Conte was first serialized in the magazine The book itself was published in 1896. Twain consider this novel one on which he worked the hardest, as he spent months using historical sources in both English and French to set the scenes for Joan's life and death. Sieur Louis de Conte was a fictionalized page of Joan's who was with her from the beginning to her death.
His critics, were, well critical, despite the effort Twain put into the book -- twelve years of preparation, he said.
"I like Joan of Arc best of all my books; and it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing. The others need no preparation and got none." Mark Twain
I read this book for a class I took and found it interesting. This is not a quick read, but fans of Twain will find it a contrast to his other books. Twain was enamored of the character, modeling her after his daughter Susi as he remembered her at seventeen years of age.
Was Mark Twain interested in cross-dressing or changes in identity by a switch of clothes, (Prince and the Pauper)? There is more to this and I have added a reference that explores Twain's intense interest in the ideal of Victorian womanhood. The reference is worth reading.
Edward Penfield (1866-1925) was one of America's most famous poster artists and created many covers for Harper's.