Albany Times Union

'Grant & Twain' onstage at PS21 this weekend

Play tells story of literary partnership of two icons

By Joseph Dalton

Published 4:14 pm EDT, Wednesday, September 26, 2018


Ulysses S. Grant completed his 1,000-page autobiography just days before he died in 1885 at age 63. Rather than having any pressing desire to tell his story or settle some old scores, what motivated him to plow ahead with the writing was the desperate need to earn a nest egg for his wife. Grant had fallen victim to a confidence scheme that led to complete bankruptcy and public shame. Then came the diagnosis of throat cancer.

His friend Mark Twain, confident of a bestseller, secured a lucrative book deal for Grant. The elder statesman now had to deliver the goods. It gives new meaning to the notion of writing on deadline.


In the new play "Grant & Twain," Austerlitz-based playwright Elizabeth Diggs tells the story of the unlikely friendship between the former president and the famed humorist, focusing specifically on Grant's race to get his autobiography done and Twain's shepherding the project to publication. The show opens tonight at PS21 in Chatham, and runs through Sunday.


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