At the end of May, I used a free weekend (what am I saying, I’m free every weekend) as an excuse to take the Peter Pan bus up to Hartford, Connecticut, and visit the Mark Twain House & Museum.
As a Twain enthusiast and, finally, houseguest, I volunteered to write up a gushing Twain profile for Headstuff’s new literary series. But until then, here’s a preview of the delights in store—in the form of, obviously, fun facts:
- He lived right next door to Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of the abolitionist novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. She was much more famous than him in the 19th century. (I’ll write more about her another time—I visited her house, too!)
- He worked as a typesetter, a riverboat pilot, and a miner before settling down to write books.
- He proposed to his eventual wife, Olivia Langdon, in 1868. A coal heiress far, far wealthier than Twain, she (and her family) took some convincing.
- He was a prolific smoker, often finishing off 25-40 cigars per day.
- He was anti-imperialist, anti-slavery, critical of organized religion, and an active supporter of women’s suffrage—to name just a few of his convictions.
- He had a lifelong obsession with Joan of Arc, going on to write a book about her in 1896.
Learning about him has spurred me on to finish The 100 Greatest Books Challenge, just so I can fill my TBR pile with his writing. I think I’ll start with The Innocents Abroad—a travel narrative mocking his fellow tourists. Or maybe I’ll just squeeze that into my next free weekend (a.k.a. this weekend).