Name. Beth Miller
What is your job at the Mark Twain House & Museum? Director of Development
How long have you worked at the Mark Twain House & Museum? A year and five months
Where are you from? Rocky Hill, CT
Where did you go to school? Trinity College, BA ’00 & MA’03
Why did you decide to work at the Mark Twain House? I was attracted to the Mark Twain House & Museum for a few reasons. It's an important local and national cultural institution, and the staff is talented. The leadership at the organization has combined frugality with creativity and invested in marketing and events to increase stability and success. The momentum here is palpable and it is a very exciting place to work.
What is your favorite Mark Twain Book? Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but I have lots more to read still.
How did you become interested in Mark Twain? The wit and satire of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn made me very interested in Mark Twain – that he wrote this book, in the way he wrote it, at the time he wrote it. It is stunning and very, very important.
What is the strangest fact you know about Mr. Twain? That his voluminous moustache and that he seldom smiled were to hide his bad teeth (according to his daughter, Clara.)
Hopes for the future of the House. There are many specific projects I would like to see happen with the historic properties – and all of those projects could be realized if we had a more substantial endowment. What I hope to see in the future is a $20 million endowment so we have the operating expenses to focus on raising funds for projects in the house.
Favorite room in the house. A beautiful little room: the butler’s pantry.
Favorite Tour Story. I love the story of the Scottish fireplace mantel: it was found because a tour-goer heard the tale of the missing mantel and realized his family had it in their barn.
Have you ever received a question you have yet to find the answer to? What did George Griffin look like?
How did you learn everything you know about Mark Twain, his life, and his house? I am reading, asking questions, and listening all the time.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about Mr. Twain? I think because Twain was such a great humorist there is a perception that he had a very jolly and happy life. Parts of it certainly were, but he suffered a stunning amount of tragedy at all stages of his life and from all quarters. For all his fame and notoriety, Twain was very human – he suffered and was as flawed as any of us.
Do you like Mark Twain more having worked here? Yes – getting to know him as a husband, father, and friend has made me admire him even more.
Do you find yourself talking to friends and family about Mark Twain? I think they are all really getting annoyed with all the Twain quotes I lob into any conversation at the slightest provocation.
Based on your knowledge of Twain’s personality, do you think you and Mr. Twain would be friends? Yes, but he might have turned on me at any point.
What do you think Mark Twain’s comments would be on the management of The Mark Twain House & Museum? He would say that we have kept pace with his struggles and success, but he would have said it way funnier than that.