Friday, February 27, 2009

Mark Twain House - Hartford, Connecticut


Here is the magnificent 19-room Victorian mansion of author Mark Twain in Hartford, Connecticut. Mr. Twain, or Samuel Clemens, moved his family here in 1874, two years before “Tom Sawyer” was published. He wrote most of his major works here. Twain once described his house as a “combination Mississippi River steamboat and cuckoo clock.”

He also, more lovingly depicted the house in a letter to Joseph Twichell, reprinted in Mark Twain: A Biography, (Harper, 1912) “To us our house was not unsentient matter--it had a heart & a soul & eyes to see us with, & approvals & solicitudes & deep sympathies; it was of us, & we were in its confidence, & lived in its grace & in the peace of its benediction. We never came home from an absence that its face did not light up & speak out its eloquent welcome--& we could not enter it unmoved.”

Twain also, in his customarily crusty puckish humor described Hartford as, “A city whose fame as an insurance center has extended to all lands and given us the name of being a quadruple band of brothers working sweetly hand in hand--the Colt's Arms Company making the destruction of our race easy and convenient, our life insurance citizens paying for the victims when they pass away, Mr. Batterson perpetuating their memory with his stately monuments, and our fire insurance companies taking care of their hereafter.”

This was from a speech he made in the same year he moved here. Hartford was among the nation’s wealthiest and grandest cities in the late 1800s, but Mark Twain’s fortunes as a writer did always keep up. In 1891 he moved with his family to Europe for a less expensive lifestyle for time, and after resettling in the US, sold the house in 1903.

Today the house is a magnificent museum and a repository for study on this great American writer. From the grand veranda to the third story billiard room, the home is rich with 19th century d├ęcor and evocative of the opulence of an age. Visit when you can, and support this New England treasure.

For more on the Mark Twain House and Museum, please have a look at this website.

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