Hellfire Hotchkiss

Hellfire Hotchkiss is an unfinished novel by Mark Twain. Twain completed three chapters of the novel in 1897, mostly while he was residing in Weggis, Switzerland.[1] These remained unpublished until 1967 when they were incorporated into Mark Twain's Satires and Burlesques.[2] As a result the book is not in the public domain.

Hellfire Hotchkiss
AuthorMark Twain
Published1967 (1967) (posthumously)

The novel is notable for the reversed gender roles of its two main characters.[3][4] The heroine, Rachel "Hellfire" Hotchkiss, is portrayed as a resourceful but temperamental tomboy. Oscar "Thug" Carpenter, in contrast, is portrayed as a sensitive, effeminate, and unstable young man. In one section of the book, a villager remarks, "Pudd'nhead Wilson says Hellfire Hotchkiss is the only genuwyne male man in this town and Thug Carpenter's the only genuwyne female girl, if you leave out sex and just consider the business facts."

According to some sources, the character of Oscar Carpenter was partially based on Twain's brother Orion Clemens, who was notoriously indecisive,[4][5] while Rachel Hotchkiss may have been based on Twain's friend Lillie Hitchcock.[2][5]


  1. Twain, Mark; Franklin R. Rogers (1967). Mark Twain's Satires and Burlesques. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-01081-7.
  2. Cooley, John (2001). How Nancy Jackson Married Kate Wilson. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. pp. 43–44. ISBN 0-8032-9442-5.
  3. Morris, Linda A. (September 2005). "The Eloquent Silence in "Hellfire Hotchkiss"". The Mark Twain Annual. 3 (1): 43–51. doi:10.1111/j.1756-2597.2005.tb00028.x.
  4. Gillman, Susan (1989). Dark Twins: Imposture and Identity in Mark Twain's America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 109–110. ISBN 0-226-29387-4.
  5. LeMaster, J.R. (1993). The Mark Twain Encyclopedia. New York: Garland. p. 355. ISBN 0-8240-7212-X.
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