Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mark Twain’s Connecticut

The Mark Twain House & Museum is very pleased to be collaborating with the folks at the Wilton Historical Society (Wilton, CT) and the Mark Twain Library (Redding, CT) on the exhibition, Wilton’s Friend: Mark Twain, which opens on September 1st at the Wilton Historical Society.

Over the course of his seventy-four years, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) traveled to over thirty states, and crisscrossed the globe, visiting five continents, crossing the Atlantic twenty-nine times, and crossing the Pacific and Indian oceans as part of his round-the-world lecture circuit. He wrote to his mother, “All I do know or feel, is, that I am wild with impatience to move—move—Move!”

When the time came for him to settle down, Clemens chose Connecticut. In fact, the only two homes that he ever constructed for himself were both in the state. In 1874, as his career was exploding, Clemens built a large mansion in the Nook Farm neighborhood of Hartford for his growing family. In 1908, toward the end of his career, he built an Italianate-style villa, which he named “Stormfield,” in Redding.

Both of these homes represented a sense of stability and permanence to Clemens, and they were equally special to him. Wilton’s Neighbor, Mark Twain, brings together artifacts belonging to The Mark Twain House, Mark Twain Library, and the Wilton Historical Society to give an intimate look at Twain’s life in both Hartford and Redding.

Visitors to the exhibit will get a chance to see some special items from our collection that you don’t normally see when you visit Hartford. Items such as Twain’s billiard cue and humidor, his patented inventions of the “Mark Twain’s Memory Builder” and Self-Pasting Scrapbook, and his family’s picnic basket (which includes some silverware items lifted from Long’s Hotel in London) all give insight into the lives that our beloved author and his family led while living in Connecticut.

We hope you’ll get a chance to visit Wilton’s Neighbor: Mark Twain before it closes on October 31st.

~ Patti Phillipon, Chief Curator of The Mark Twain House & Museum

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Double Blog

The Mark Twain House & Museum is constantly working on several projects at once-- you may have noticed our advertising for our Ghost Tours, foodie events, educational programs, and more-- but we're also building up momentum on a project that isn't quite as fancy but vitally important to the author's legacy.

Last Spring we launched a brand-new program that has long been a dream of the staff here: Writing at The Mark Twain House. Our flagship course was taught by Lary Bloom and Suzanne Levine and focused on Memoir. Our students spent eight weeks writing and critiquing their work. Due to their successes, we're delighted to announce that we will continue to offer Writing Workshops at the Mark Twain Museum Center for as long as aspiring and established writers keep on coming back to take them.

We also are committed to displaying our writers' voices, and so we have started a second blog entirely devoted to the product of these workshops: Writing at The Mark Twain House. That blog will display the writing of our students as well as announce upcoming courses and report on the progress we're making in the program. Please follow it!

As if that weren't exciting enough, we're also thrilled to announce that the next round of Nonfiction writing workshops will be taught by the illustrious Susan Campbell, author of Dating Jesus and columnist for the Hartford Courant. Classes will treat all manner of non-fiction work, from opinion writing to autobiography to essay writing to general truth-telling, guided by the spirits of E. B. White, Jessica Mitford, Tracy Kidder and Joan Didion, among others. The six sessions run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday evenings, beginning Nov. 10 and running to Dec. 22 (no class Nov. 24). There is a fee of $500. Call Steve Courtney at 860-247-0998, Ext. 243, steve.courtney@marktwainhouse.org.

We hope that you are as excited about this set of programs as we are! Let us know in the comments what you think, what kind of writing workshop you'd take, and which writers you'd love to see here at the Twain House.

-- Julia