Mark Twain Friends

Rev. Joseph Twichell ~ 1888

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Reverend Joseph Hopkins Twichell (November 30, 1838 – December 20, 1918), writer and pastor, was Mark Twain’s closest friend for over forty years, and appears in A Tramp Abroad as “Harris”. They met at a church social after the Civil War when Hopkins was pastor of Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford, his only pastorate for almost 50 years. Reverend Twichell performed Twain’s wedding and christened his children, and counseled him on literary as well as personal matters for the rest of Twain’s life. A profound scholar and devout Christian, he was described as “a man with an exuberant sense of humor, and a profound understanding of the frailties of mankind.”
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Mary Mason Fairbanks

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Mary Mason Fairbanks is by far the most influential non-family member in Sam Clemens’s life. Clemens and Fairbanks first met on board the Quaker City where she began editing his paper assignments which would eventually be compiled into Innocents Abroad. “Gentility, high sentiment, polish, piety, and decorum, along with an aversion to ‘slang,’ ‘vulgarity,’ irreverence,’ were her literary and life values, just as they were the values of an entire female audience which Mark Twain several times tried to accommodate”(Kaplan 75). Clemens’s relationship with Fairbanks became so intimate he addressed her as ‘mother’ and called himself her ‘cub’ and ‘reformed prodigy'”(Kaplan 75). Even though she was such an important figure in his life, she did not appear anywhere in Innocents Abroad. J.D.Stahl, in his Mark Twain: Culture and Gender, explains this discrepancy by saying the narrator wanted to steer attention towards his own experiences instead of crediting and sharing Mary Fairbanks experiences. He also goes on to explain that the lack of encounters with women in Innocents Abroad creates the effect of the narrator coming off as “an innocent who ambivalently seeks to lose and preserve his innocence”(Stahl 31). Although Olivia would eventually take over much of Fairbanks’s editorial duties, Clemens and Fairbanks maintained frequent correspondence throughout his career.

Mary Fairbanks provided Clemens with social, moral, and literary direction and can be associated with such reformist characters as the following: Aunt Polly, Widow Douglas, Miss Watson, Aunt Sally, Roxy.
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William Dean Howells, Twain, at Stormfield

Howells, who is regarded as the “literary dean” of America’s Age of Realism, was the editor of Boston’s prestigious literary magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, during the period in which post-Civil War fiction flourished. He first met Twain in 1869, beginning a lifelong friendship of over 40 years. They shared a similar early education as printers, and both detested racism.

His social views were strongly represented in the novels Annie Kilburn (1888) and A Hazard of New Fortunes (1890). During 1904, he was one of the first seven people chosen for membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, of which he became president. Howells died May 11, 1920.


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William Dean Howells’s career spanned a period of radical change in American literature; as novelist, critic, and editor, he contributed greatly to those changes, advocating honesty and social responsibility in literature.

Howells was born March 1, 1837, at Martin’s Ferry, Ohio. His father was a country printer and journalist who displayed the best American frontier traits – independence, self-reliance, and conscience. William spent scarcely a year in the classroom, but his father’s offices afforded a thorough and meaningful education. In Years of My Youth (1916) Howells recalled his earliest training: “I could set type very well, and at ten years and onward till journalism became my university, the printing office was mainly my school.”

Howells inherited his father’s strong abolitionist convictions. These are reflected in the narrative poem The Pilot’s Story, a pathetic account of a slave girl’s suicide, which was one of several of Howells’s poems published by the Atlantic Monthly in 1860. Howells’s awareness of social and class injustice and of each man’s complicity in such injustice was strengthened by his reading of Russian novelist, Leo Tolstoy.

In the impressive novella An Imperative Duty (1892), he argued eloquently against racism at a moment when his readers were turning rapidly toward white supremacist doctrines. He presented his ideas of a good society, essentially socialistic and libertarian, in the long tale A Traveler from Altruria (1894).

His reviews consistently recognized the best in contemporary literature. He was the first critic of note to praise Stephen Crane and the only important critic to review Emily Dickinson’s poems with real appreciation. The principles of his literary judgments are set out in Criticism and Fiction (1891), a work of enduring importance. My Literary Passions (1895), Heroines of Fiction (1901), and My Mark Twain (1910) are other critical works of interest.

Every conceivable honor came to Howells (known as “the Dean”) in the last 20 years of his life – honorary doctorates, the first presidency of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the most practical of prizes, a library edition of his own writings (1911).
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Twain & Henry Huttleston Rogers ~ 1908

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In 1893, a mutual friend introduced Rogers to humorist Mark Twain. Rogers reorganized Twain’s tangled finances, and the two became close friends for the rest of Rogers’ life.

By the 1890s, Twain’s fortunes began to decline; in his later life, Twain was a very depressed man, but still capable. Twain was able to respond “The report of my death is an exaggeration” in the New York Journal, June 2, 1897. He lost 3 out of 4 of his children, and his beloved wife, Olivia Langdon, before his death in 1910.

Twain also had some very bad times with his businesses. His publishing company ended up going bankrupt, and he lost thousands of dollars on one typesetting machine that was never finished. He also lost a great deal of revenue on royalties from his books being plagiarized before he even had a chance to publish them himself. Things looked pretty grim financially until he met Henry Rogers in 1893.
Rogers and Twain enjoyed a mutually beneficial friendship which was to last for more than 16 years. Rogers’ family became Twain’s surrogate family and he was a frequent guest at the Rogers townhouse in New York City. Earl J. Dias described the relationship in these words: “Rogers and Twain were kindred spirits – fond of poker, billiards, the theater, practical jokes, mild profanity, the good-natured spoof. Their friendship, in short, was based on a community of interests and on the fact that each, in some way, needed the other.”

While Twain openly credited Rogers with saving him from financial ruin; there is also substantial evidence in their published correspondence that the close friendship in their later years was mutually beneficial. Their letters back and forth are so interesting and insightful that they were published in a book, Mark Twain’s Correspondence with Henry Huttleston Rogers, 1893-1909.

In the written exchanges between the two men, there are pleasant examples of Rogers’ sense of fun as well as Twain’s well-known sense of humor. There was a standing joke between them that Twain was inclined to pilfer items from the Rogers household whenever he spent the night there as a guest. Two of the many letters provide an illustration:

In a letter sent to Mrs. Rogers by Twain, he notes that while packing his things after a visit, he found that he had put in ~ ‘…some articles that was laying around….two books, Mr. Rogers’ brown slippers, and a ham. I thought it was one of ourn. It looked like one we used to have, but it shan’t occur again, and don’t you worry. He will temper the wind to the shorn lamb, and I will send some of the things back if there is some that won’t keep. Yores in Jesus, S.L.C.’

The reply to Twain was a letter written by Henry Rogers on October 31, 1906. It reads: ‘Before I forget it, let me remind you that I shall want the trunk and the things you took away from my house as soon as possible. I learn that instead of taking old things, you took my best. Mrs. Rogers is at the White Mountains. I am going to Fairhaven this afternoon. I hope you will not be there. By the way, I have been using a pair of your gloves in the Mountains, and they don’t seem to be much of an attraction.’

In April 1907, they traveled together in Rogers’ steam yacht Kanawha to the Jamestown Exposition held at Sewell’s Point near Norfolk, Virginia in celebration of the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Jamestown Colony. Although by this late date, both men were in marginal health, Twain returned to Norfolk with Rogers in April 1909, and was the guest speaker at the dedication dinner held for the newly completed Virginian Railway, a “Mountains to Sea” engineering marvel of the day. The construction of the new railroad had been solely financed by industrialist Rogers. When Rogers died suddenly in New York City on May 20, 1909 of an apoplectic stroke, the humorist had been on his way by train from Connecticut to visit Rogers. When Twain was met with the news at Mark Twain: A Biography wrote that Twain “could not undertake to travel that distance among those whom he knew so well, and with whom he must of necessity join in conversation.” Twain himself died less than one year later. He wrote in 1909, “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it.” And so he did.
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Charles Dudley Warner

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Charles Dudley Warner (September 12, 1829 – October 20, 1900) was an American essayist, novelist, and friend of Mark Twain, with whom he co-authored the novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today.

Warner travelled widely, lectured frequently, and was actively interested in prison reform, city park supervision, and other movements for the public good. He was the first president of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and, at the time of his death, was president of the American Social Science Association. He first attracted attention by the reflective sketches entitled My Summer in a Garden (1870; first published in The Hartford Courant, popular for their abounding and refined humour and mellow personal charm, their wholesome love of outdoor things, their suggestive comment on life and affairs, and their delicately finished style, qualities that suggest the work of Washington Irving. Charles Dudley Warner is known for making the famous remark “Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it”. This was quoted by Mark Twain in a lecture, and is still commonly misattributed to Twain.
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Harriet Beecher Stowe

Writer and abolitionist, Harriet Beecher Stowe was Mark Twain’s neighbor, in the literary enclave known as Nook Farm, in Hartford.


Stowe’s best-known work, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or a Life Among the Lowly, was first published in weekly installments from June 5, 1851 to April 1, 1852. It quickly became popular with readers, and was published in book form on March 20, 1852. Focusing on a long-suffering slave, it is often described as a ‘touchstone’ that stirred the conscience of a nation over the divisive issue of slavery. Uncle Tom’s Cabin eventually became the best-selling novel in the world in the nineteenth century, and was translated into many languages.

With its publication, Harriet Beecher Stowe, the wife of a professor with six children, became one of the most celebrated women in the world. The book caused such a stir in both the Northern and Southern states of the US, that when Stowe met President Lincoln in 1862 he is said to have greeted her with the words, “So you are the little woman who wrote the book that created this great war!”

Andrew Carnegie  circa 1896


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Andrew Carnegie rose from a bobbin boy in a textile factory to become one of the richest men in America. A Scottish immigrant, Carnegie moved with his parents from Scotland to Pennsylvania, near what is now Pittsburgh. Carnegie educated himself by reading and attending night school and got a job in a telegraph office. He quickly rose and by 1859 was a superintendent in the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. After a series of profitable investments Carnegie was able to build the Carnegie Steel Company into one of the largest steel-making companies in the United States. Carnegie used his vast fortune to become a generous philanthropist. His 1889 article, “Wealth,” articulated what came to be known as the Gospel of Wealth which proposed that a man who accumulates great wealth has a duty to share it for the betterment of mankind. Carnegie gave a lot of money for libraries and schools throughout North America and the United Kingdom, with special attention going to institutions in Scotland and Pennsylvania.

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Twain & Laura Hawkins, at Stormfield ~ 1908

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Laura Hawkins lived across from Sam on Hill Street, and the two went to school together at Mr. Cross’s classroom on the Square. Sam Clemens was as smitten with Laura Hawkins as Tom Sawyer was with Becky Thatcher. Once during a spelling bee, (he famously wore the school’s medal week after week for winning them), he purposely missed the first “r” in the word “Febn1ary” because Laura was the only one left standing as his competitor. Another time, the two were fooling with some building materials outside Laura’s new house when a brick accidentally fell on Laura’s finger. Sam tended to her “recovery” with great tendemess and care. He never forgot his love affair with Laura, and many of their actual experiences and spats are replayed in Tom Sawyer.
Credit: ~ Mark Twain: A Biography, by Connie Ann Kirk.

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Laura Hawkins (Frazer). As a child she was a blond, blue-eyed “charmer” who wore white summer frocks, plaited her hair into two long tails, and lived across the street from the Clemenses in Hannibal. She was also the source for Twain’s Becky Thatcher in Tom Sawyer and several of his stories. Clemens invited Laura Frazer to visit him in Stormfield, his home in Redding, Connecticut. Clemens anticipated her visit in a letter to Margaret Blackmer: “About next Tuesday or Wednesday a Missouri sweetheart of mine, is coming here from Missouri to visit me – the very best sweet-heart I ever had. It was 68 years ago. She was 5 years old and I the same. I had an apple, & fell in love with her and gave her the core. … She figures in ‘Tom Sawyer’ as ‘Becky Thatcher’ ” (6-9 October 1908). Laura Frazer did visit him a few days later and received a Mark Twain photograph inscribed, “To Laura Frazer, with the love of her earliest sweetheart.”
Credit: ~ Mark Twain’s Acquarium: The Samuel Clemens Angelfish Correspondence 1905-1910, by Samuel Clemens, John Cooley.

Horace Bixby ~ 1912

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Horace Ezra Bixby (1826-1912), was one of the great steamboat pilots on both the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. His career spanned more than six decades. He died just two days after retiring. In February of 1857, when he was 31 years old, he met a young printer named Samuel Clemens who was a passenger aboard the Paul Jones when it left Cincinnati, Ohio; Bixby was the pilot.

During the time that “The poor old Paul Jones fooled away about two weeks in making the voyage….to New Orleans,” the pilot and printer became acquainted. Clemens inquired if the pilot knew the 3 Bowen brothers ~ all respected pilots who grew up with Clemens in Hannibal which Bixby did. Before landing in New Orleans Bixby agreed to train the eager 21 year old Sam Clemens to be a pilot for $500. On the return trip to St. Louis, Clemens began his apprenticeship aboard the Colonel Crossman, not the Paul Jones, as one would surmise after reading Life on the Mississippi.

One of Bixby’s first lessons began with the query: “What’s the name of the first point above New Orleans?” Sam was gratified to be able to answer promptly, by saying he didn’t know. Bixby said, “I don’t know.” This manner jolted Bixby. Bixby then said, “Well, you’re a smart one.” Then he replied to Sam, “What’s the name of the next point?” Once more Sam stated he didn’t know. Bixby said, “Well this beats anything. Tell me the name of any point or place I told you.” Sam studied a while and decided that he couldn’t give Bixby an answer. “Look here! Bixby stated, What do you start from, above Twelve-Mile Point, to cross over?” He knew that Sam had no answer for him, so he asked Sam– “What do you know?” He then stated, “By the great Caesar’s ghost, I believe you! You’re the stupidest dunderhead I ever saw or ever heard of, so help me Moses! The idea of you being a pilot — you! Why, you don’t know enough to pilot a cow down a lane.” Oh, but his wrath was up!  He was a nervous man, and he shuffled from one side of his wheel to the other as if the floor was hot. He would boil a while to himself, and then overflow and scold me again. “Look here! What do you suppose I told you the names of those points for?” Sam tremblingly considered a moment, and then the devil of temptation provoked him to say: “Well–to–to–be entertaining, I thought.” This was a red flag to the bull. He raged and stormed so (he was crossing the river at that time) that I judge it made him blind, because he ran over the steering-oar of the trading-scow. Of course the traders sent up a volley of red-hot profanity. Never was a man so grateful as Mr. Bixby was: because he was brim full, and here were subjects who would talk back. He threw open a window, thrust his head out, and such an irruption followed as I never had heard before. The fainter and farther away the scowmen’s curses drifted the higher Mr. Bixby lifted his voice and the weightier his adjectives grew. When he closed the window he was empty. You could have drawn a seine through his system and not caught curses enough to disturb your mother with.

Presently he said to me in the gentlest way– “My boy, you must get a little memorandum book, and every time I tell you a thing, put it down right away. There’s only one way to be a pilot, and that is to get this entire river by heart. You have to know it just like A B C.” Sam Clemens was the steersman for Horace Bixby on the Crescent City, Rufus J. Lackland and the William M. Morrison before Bixby decided to transfer to the more demanding but more lucrative Missouri River. Clemens elected to stay on the more familiar Mississippi. The last steamboat that cub pilot Clemens steered for Bixby after his return to the Mississippi was the Aleck Scott. It was for five months, December 1858 to April 1859, when Clemens acquired his pilots license. It was on this steamboat (a 709-ton side-wheeler) –all the boats that Sam Clemens piloted were side-wheelers –that Horace Bixby taught the cub pilot a lesson that he would never forget.

During the Civil War Bixby was pilot of the ironclad, Benton, the Union’s Western Flotilla flagship. He was the chief of the Union River Service. In a notebook (April- May 1882), Twain recounts Bixby’s experience in “A War Pilot”. Mark Twain returned to St. Louis on the City of Baton Rouge; Bixby doing much of the piloting with Twain occasionally sharing the steering duties. In taking this trip he saw an almost empty river and he could not help but realize that the sun had now set on those magnificent, exciting days of steamboating.

The last time Mark Twain saw Bixby was during his 1902 journey when he returned to his home state to accept an honorary degree from the University of Missouri. Bixby was waiting for him at the St. Louis railroad station. A huge crowd staged a reception at his hotel and later he went with Bixby to a gathering of pilots where more old friends were in attendance. Because of Life On The Mississippi Bixby became a celebrity. He gave many interviews and seemed to enjoy his status but he eventually grew irascible after repeatedly answering the same questions. Horace Bixby was married twice; Susan Weibling of New Orleans (1860) and Mary Sheble (1868). Both are interred with him in the family lot.

Other interesting facts: Sam Clemens borrowed the first $100 from his brother-in-law, William Moffett, and paid the remainder in later wages. At the time that Captain Bixby accepted Clemens as his steersman, exorbitant apprenticeship fees were common. Two prominent St. Louis-New Orleans pilots, Charles Scott and William Gallaher, publicly condemned “the cupidity of several who were in the habit of taking steersmen, receiving….$500 for learning them.” The following winter after piloting on the Missouri Bixby returned to the Mississippi. He was hired as a co-pilot on the Colonel Crossman. Because of its advanced safety features it was considered unsinkable. On February 5, 1858, however, when its boilers blew near New Madrid many passengers were killed. Bixby, the off-duty pilot, personally saved many lives. It was during this period when Horace Bixby was piloting on the Missouri that Samuel Clemens was a cub pilot on the Pennsylvania.
Credit:~ Fiddlinsue

Joseph T. Goodman

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Joseph Goodman was born in Masonville, New York in 1838. He traveled to California with his father in 1856 and secured employment with Rollin Daggett, typesetting for The Golden Era, a San Francisco literary weekly. Goodman met fellow-printer Denis McCarthy, and the two traveled to Virginia City in 1861, where they acquired interests in the Territorial Enterprise.

In 1862, Goodman employed Samuel Clemens, an impoverished miner who had written clever letters to the Enterprise from Aurora. Regardless of Goodman’s many accomplishments, hiring Clemens as a reporter made him known to history as the “discoverer of Mark Twain.”

Goodman was a fierce supporter of the Republican Party and the Union during the Civil War. In 1872, he opposed William Sharon’s bid for the U.S. Senate. Sharon purchased the Enterprise so his second run for office in 1874 could be successful. Goodman, ready to leave the Comstock, gave up the fight and resigned his position.

Goodman subsequently left Virginia City and took a seat on the Pacific Stock Exchange. He became managing editor of the San Francisco Post, tried growing grapes, founded a literary magazine, and wrote his memoirs. In an odd twist, he deciphered the Mayan calendar, publishing a book on the subject in 1897. To this day, archaeologists use the Goodman-Martinez-Thompson method to date Mayan sites. Goodman died in California in 1917.
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William Wright, or Dan DeQuille

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William Wright
 (1829–1898), better known by the pen name Dan DeQuille or Dan De Quille, was an American author, journalist, and humorist. He was best known for his written accounts of the people, events, and silver mining operations on the Comstock Lode at Virginia City, Nevada, including his non-fiction book A History of the Big Bonanza (American Publishing Company, 1876). DeQuille was on the staff of the (Virginia City) Enterprise for over thirty years, and his writings were also printed in other publications throughout the country and abroad. Highly regarded for his knowledge of silver mining techniques and his ability to explain them in simple terms, he was also appreciated for his humor, similar in style to that of his associate and friend Mark Twain, and of a type very popular in the United States at that time. He was inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame in 1994.

William Wright was born in Knox County, Ohio, in 1829, the oldest of nine children. In 1849 he moved west with his family to West Liberty, Iowa, where in 1853 he married Caroline Coleman. Their union produced five children, two of which died in infancy.

In 1857, leaving his family behind, he traveled to California in search of gold. While living as a nomadic prospector in the Sierra foothills and Mono Lake region, he heard of the discovery of silver on the other side of the Sierras and ventured to Virginia City, Nevada in 1859. With no success at prospecting there and in need of funds to send his wife and children in Iowa, Wright applied for regular employment in Virginia City at the (Territorial) Enterprise, a newspaper that had recently relocated there from Carson City, Nevada. He was hired in 1862 and soon adopted the pen name Dan DeQuille.

Soon after he became known as Dan DeQuille at the Enterprise, another unsuccessful miner named Sam Clemens was hired to work under him in August 1863. Clemens adopted the pen name Mark Twain. The two of them reported on local events and wrote columns for the newspaper. Under DeQuille’s editorial supervision, Twain established his reputation as a humorous writer. Twain would later describe this period in his book Roughing It. Twain left Virginia City in May 1864 and after brief stays in San Francisco and Hawaii he toured as a lecturer, which brought him back for visits to Virginia City and DeQuille in 1866 and 1868.


In March 1875 he sent a letter to Mark Twain, then residing in Hartford, Connecticut, to seek his advise on having the book published.

Under Twain’s mentorship during the summer of 1875, DeQuille pieced together a sizable volume which contained a mixture of technical chapters on silver mining interspersed with lighter accounts of Nevada events and individuals.
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Artemus Ward, or Charles Farrar Brown

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Artemus Ward, often called the first standup comic, played a pivotal role in the history of American literature during an 1863 Christmas visit to the Nevada territory when he influenced the career of Mark Twain. Born Charles Farrar Brown in 1834 in Maine, the future Artemus Ward lost his father when young and became an apprentice printer at age thirteen. Eventually, Brown graduated to reporter and comic columnist during a career that took him to Ohio.

In 1858, Brown created the persona of Artemus Ward, a poorly educated traveling showman with a wealth of puns and misspellings. Ward’s instinct for folk humor presented with malapropisms made him nationally popular. He was the favorite comic of President Abraham Lincoln, who often read Ward to begin cabinet meetings.

Nineteenth-century convention allowed other newspapers to reprint Ward’s columns without compensation. Brown subsequently took his show on the road, lecturing and selling books of his reprinted articles. Initially, Brown’s appearance–tall, thin, and young–astounded audiences who expected the short, rotund, middle-aged Ward depicted in lithographs. Nevertheless, Brown’s wit and onstage charisma created diehard fans as he presented his farcical speech, “The Babes in the Wood.”

In 1863, Brown toured the West, receiving wide acclaim in San Francisco and other California venues. He crossed the Sierra in December and performed in Carson City. Nevada territorial Governor James Nye declared Ward an official emissary of Nevada for life. His most importent encounter in the state lay ahead, however.

By December 22, Brown had arrived in Virginia City where he sought out fellow journalists and enchanted hundreds in the newly-opened Maguire’s Opera House. He became instant friends with Dan De Quille and Mark Twain as they spent the week eating, drinking, and cavorting.

Brown recognized a kindred spirit in Twain who was nearly his own age. He, too, had lost his father, became a printer, and then a columnist and humorist. Brown inspired Twain to recognize the virtue of writing books and performing on stage. In addition, he promised to help Twain publish in a national venue. Brown then left as suddenly as he arrived, having stayed a mere week, but with enormous effect.

Brown went on to perform in Austin, Nevada. Against better advice, he traveled east in a mid-winter blizzard. Brown caught pneumonia but was nursed back to health in Salt Lake City by Mormons, whom he subsequently held in high regard.

Twain submitted a story for a collection of material Brown was publishing on his western adventure. Twain’s “Jim Smiley and his Jumping Frog” arrived too late, but was eventually published with Ward’s recommendation in 1865 by New York’s Saturday Press. The story was a dramatic success, and Twain was instantly famous.

After the Civil War, Brown went on a popular tour of the South. He then traveled to London, where the English embraced him as an American original. A grueling schedule weakened the comic who suffered from tuberculosis. Brown died in 1867 at the age of thirty-three. Had he lived, one can only imagine the acclaim he might have gained from a long, productive life.

Brown’s death cleared the way for Twain. Although Twain’s style was different, for years critics compared him with Brown, maintaining the new comic was a lesser imitation. Twain resented Ward’s shadow. He later underplayed Brown’s influence on his career, but the Christmas visit in 1863 clearly shaped the career of Twain as he took the first steps towards becoming America’s premier humorist for generations.
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Bret Harte

Francis Bret Harte was born August 25, 1839 in Albany, New York. He traveled to California with his widowed mother is 1854, and around 1855 worked sporadically as a miner, moving as far north as Angels Camp, staying for a time at the Gillis Brothers’ cabin on Jackass Hill a few miles south of town. Harte found the foothills “hard, ugly, unwashed, vulgar, and lawless.” He left the goldfields and never returned. But his experiences provided a lifetime of material.

He worked as a school teacher, an express messenger, a printer, and finally, a journalist. Harte wrote for The Northern Californian, but at the beginning of 1859 he lost the job after he used the paper to denounce the massacre of a tribe of peaceful Native Americans holding a religious festival near Eureka. He met Sam Clemens in 1864, relating his experiences in Angel’s Camp. In December 1864, Clemens headed toward Angels and lived in the same cabin as Harte, prospecting with the Gillis Brothers.

Harte helped Clemens get his work published. While writing The Innocents Abroad in San Francisco in 1868, Harte provided editorial assistance in exchange for permission to publish excerpts in the newly started Overland Monthly, of which he was editor.

The first of Harte’s Californian short stories to achieve nationwide and worldwide circulation was The Luck of Roaring Camp, published in August 1868 in the Overland Monthly. Later, stories like The Outcasts of Poker Flat and Brown of Calaveras and the poem The Plain Language from Truthful James (aka The Heathen Chinee) cemented Harte’s fame.

Bret Harte was flooded with offers for his work. However, when Fields, Osgood and Company, after publishing The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Stories offered Harte $10,000 in April of 1870 for the exclusive rights to the rest of his work over a twelve-month period, Harte accepted.

Other works include The Idyl of Red Gulch, Tennessee’s Partner, and Sketches of the Sixties which Harte co-authored with Clemens. In 1876, Harte came to the Clemenses house in Hartford, Connecticut, where he wrote one of his major stories, Thankful Blossom. Harte and Clemens also collaborated on the play Ah Sin. While working on the play and in the immediate aftermath, Harte and Clemens became embroiled in an argument, which would lead to their falling out.

In 1878 Bret Harte was appointed United States Consul at Crefeld, Germany. Harte was transferred to Glasgow, Scotland in 1880, and he later resided in London. He found a ready audience for his tales in England, long after American readers had tired of his formula. Works from this time include Ingénue of the Sierras and A Protégée of Jack Hamlin’s (both 1893).

Harte died from throat cancer in Camberely, England on May 6, 1902.

George Townsend, Twain, & David Gray ~ 187

On the left is George Alfred Townsend, a journalist, war correspondent and novelist who wrote under the name “Gath”, a name derived by adding an “H” to his initials. Townsend was born in Georgetown, Delaware, on January 30, 1841. He originally wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer, before moving in 1861 to the New York Herald. He is considered to have been the youngest correspondent of the war. In 1865, Townsend was Washington correspondent for the New York World, covering the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and its aftermath. His daily reports filed between April 17 – May 17 were published later in 1865 as a book, The Life, Crime, and Capture of John Wilkes Booth. He established and edited the Capital at Washington, D.C., in 1871.

To the right of Twain is David Gray, a kind-natured friend from Buffalo, New York, where Twain resided from August 1869 to March 1871. Twain was editor of the Buffalo Morning Express, while David Gray was a poet and editor of the Express’ chief rival newspaper the Buffalo Courier. Gray soon became Twain’s best friend in Buffalo.

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Almost the only intimate friends they (Sam and Livy) had in Buffalo were in the family of David Gray, the poet-editor of the Courier. Gray was a gentle, lovable man. “The gentlest spirit and the loveliest that ever went clothed in clay, since Sir Galahad laid him to rest,” Mark Twain once said of him. Both Gray and Clemens were friends of John Hay, and their families soon became intimate.
Credit: ~ Chapter 78, Mark Twain: A Biography, by Albert Bigelow Paine.

Joel Chandler Harris

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Joel Chandler Harris (December 9,1848 – July 3, 1908) was an American journalist born in Eatonton, Georgia who wrote the Uncle Remus stories, including Uncle Remus; His Songs and His Sayings, The Folk-Lore of the Old Plantation (1880), Nights with Uncle Remus (1881 & 1882), Uncle Remus and His Friends (1892), and Uncle Remus and the Little Boy (1905). The stories, based on the African-American oral storytelling tradition, were revolutionary in their use of dialect and in featuring a trickster hero called Br’er (“Brother”) Rabbit, who uses his wits against adversity, though his efforts do not always succeed.

The stories, which began appearing in the Atlanta Constitution in 1879, were popular among both Black and White readers in the North and South, not least because they presented an idealized view of race relations soon after the Civil War. The first published Brer Rabbit stories were written by President Theodore Roosevelt’s uncle, Robert Roosevelt. Paul Reuben wrote, “Joel Chandler Harris was a white man, born of poor parents, who at thirteen left home and became an apprentice to Joseph Addison Turner, a newspaper publisher and plantation owner. It is at this plantation, Turnwold, that Harris first heard the black folktales that were to make him famous.” In Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson describes Harris as a “painfully shy newsman” who had a pronounced stammer and was very self-conscious about his illegitimate birth.

While at Turnwold Plantation, Harris spent hundreds of hours in the slave quarters during time off. Much of his self-consciousness disappeared in the slave quarters, and his humble background as an illegitimate, red-headed son of an Irish immigrant helped foster an intimate connection with the slaves. He absorbed the stories, language, and inflections of people like Uncle George Terrell, Old Harbert, and Aunt Crissy. The African-American animal tales they shared later became the foundation and inspiration for Harris’s Uncle Remus tales.

Throughout his career, Joe Harris actively promoted racial reconciliation as well as African-American education, suffrage, and equality. He regularly denounced racism among southern whites, condemned lynching as barbaric, and highlighted the importance of higher education for African Americans.

Harris and his son Julian founded (in 1906) what would become Uncle Remus’s Home Magazine. Harris wrote to Andrew Carnegie that its purpose would be to further “the obliteration of prejudice against the blacks, the demand for a square deal, and the uplifting of both races so that they can look justice in the face without blushing.” Circulation reached 240,000 within one year, making it one of the largest magazines in the country.

Twain & George Washington Cable ~ 1884-85

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Cable, George Washington, 1844-1925, writer and critic. During the local color era Cable wrote of Creole New Orleans, and he has been called the most important southern artist working in the late 19th century, as well as the first modern southern writer. He is praised both for his courageous essays on civil rights, such as The Silent South (1885) and The Negro Question (1890), and for his early fiction about New Orleans, especially Old Creole Days (1879), The Grandissimes (1880), and Madame Delphine (1881). Cable was not a Creole himself, but he had deep roots in New Orleans. He was born and grew up there, and, after service as a Confederate soldier, he returned to live and work in the city until 1885, when he moved to Massachusetts.

Cable’s study of the colonial history of Louisiana while writing sketches for the Picayune revealed “the decline of an aristocracy under the pressure of circumstances,” as well as the “length and blackness” of the shadow in the southern garden. In his essay My Politics Cable tells how his reading of the Code Noir caused him such “sheer indignation” that he wrote the brutal story of Bras-Coupe, incorporated later as the foundation of The Grandissimes. Cable connected the decline of the Creoles to their self-destructive racial pride, and his best work, The Grandissimes, makes clear that such racial arrogance has direct application to broader problems of southern history, especially the black-white conflict after 1865. Like the best stories of Old Creole DaysThe Grandissimes balances sympathy for and judgment of New Orleans and the South, but it is stronger because it “contained as plain a Protest against the times in which it was written as against the earlier times in which its scenes were set.

Cable continued to write about New Orleans and Louisiana throughout his long career, most notably in Dr. Sevier (1884), The Creoles of Louisiana (1884), and the Acadian pastoral Bonaventure (1888). In all, he published 14 novels and collections of short fiction, with his last novel, Lovers of Louisiana, appearing in 1918, just seven years before his death. In his career after Cable was unable to reconcile his love for the South with his abhorrence of slavery and racism. The result was a split in his career – the polemical essays embody the spirit of reform and the New South, while the romances, beginning with The Grandissimes (1880), and ending with The Cavalier (1901), attempt to retrieve an idyllic past, devoid of the problems of racism.
Credit: ~ Thomas J. Richardson, University of Southern Mississippi.

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“The party had the privilege of idling through this ancient quarter of New Orleans with the South’s finest literary genius, the author of “the Grandissimes.” In him the South has found a masterly delineator of its interior life and its history. In truth, I find by experience, that the untrained eye and vacant mind can inspect it and learn of it and judge of it more clearly and profitably in his books than by personal contact with it.

With Mr. Cable along to see for you, and describe and explain and illuminate, a jog through that old quarter is a vivid pleasure. And you have a vivid sense as of unseen or dimly seen things – vivid, and yet fitful and darkling; you glimpse salient features, but lose the fine shades or catch them imperfectly through the vision of the imagination: a case, as it were, of ignorant near-sighted stranger traversing the rim of wide vague horizons of Alps with an inspired and enlightened long-sighted native.”
Credit: ~ Chapter 44,  Life on the Mississippi, by Mark Twain.

Twain & John T. Lewis, at Quarry Farm ~ 1903

John T. Lewis was born a “back freeman” in 1835, Carroll County, Maryland, where he lived the first twenty-five years of his life. At the age of 18 he joined the Church of the Brethren, becoming a lifelong member. In 1860 he moved north to Adams County, Pennsylvania, then settled in Elmira, New York. There he married Mary Stover, who was born in slavery.

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One day the course of his life was unexpectedly changed as he was returning home from Elmira after marketing his produce. He saw, careening down the road toward him, a carriage pulled by a runaway horse. In the carriage were three very badly frightened women. Hurriedly driving to the side of the road, he leaped from his wagon and seized the bridle of the horse. A man of great courage and strength, he succeeded in bringing it to a stop without injury to the occupants of the carriage or to himself. It was then that he discovered that the three women were wealthy Mrs. Charles Langdon, her daughter Julia, and a nurse, who lived on the nearby Quarry Farm.

General Charles Langdon was not at home at the time, but upon his return he gave Mr. Lewis a check for one thousand dollars. Mr. and Mrs. Langdon were the parents of the wife of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). Mr. Clemens, who was visiting in the Langdon home at the time, gave Mr. Lewis fifty dollars and a set of his books personally inscribed.

Mr. Crane, of the nearby home in which the women had been visiting that day, gave him four hundred dollars. Mrs. Langdon s token of appreciation was a massive gold watch with the following inscription engraved on the inside of the case:

“John T. Lewis, who saved three lives at the
deadly peril of his own, August 23, 1877.
This in grateful remembrance from
Mrs. Charles J. Langdon.”

Mr. Lewis was able to clear his sixty-four-acre farm of all encumbrance. Furthermore, he entered the employ of Mr. Langdon as coachman and faithfully performed his duties for many years. He and Mark Twain became intimate friends and spent much time together. They were frequently photographed together. Whenever the noted writer visited the Langdons – and much of his writing took place on the Quarry Farm, which Mr. Lewis cultivated – these two friends were often together. Twain was a good judge of mankind and one day, in referring to Mr. Lewis in a picture of both of them, said, “The colored man. . . is John T. Lewis, a friend of mine. These many years – thirty-four in fact. He was my father-in-law’s coachman forty years ago; was many years a farmer of Quarry Farm, and is still my neighbor. I have not known an honester man nor a more respect-worthy one. Twenty-seven years ago, by the prompt and intelligent exercise of his courage, presence of mind and extraordinary strength, he saved the lives of three relatives of mine, whom a runaway horse was hurrying to destruction. Naturally I hold him in high and grateful regard.”
Credit: ~ Sidelights on Brethren History, by Freeman Ankrum.

Twain reported, “The instant he found himself possessed of money, he forgot himself in a plan to make his old father comfortable, who is wretchedly poor and lives down in Maryland.”

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John T. Lewis was the farmer at Quarry Farm, where the Clemens family would spend their summers. One day, while tending to his agricultural duties on August 23rd, 1877, Lewis performed a very heroic act by placing his life in harms way to save the lives of a carriage full of people. Mark Twain explained to his close friend in a private handwritten letter:

“Lewis…is of mighty frame & muscle, stocky, stooping, ungainly, has a good manly face & clear eye. Aged about 45, & the most picturesque of men, when he sits in  his fluttering work-day rags, humped forward into a bunch, with his slouched hat mashed over his ears & neck. It is a spectacle to make the broken hearted smile.

Well, sunset came and Ida the young and comely (the wife of Twain’s brother -in-law Charley Langdon), her little Julia & the nurse Nora, drove out at the gate behind the new gray horse & started down the long hill —- the high carriage receiving its load under the porte-cochere. Ida was seen to turn her face toward us across the fence & intervening lawn. Theodore waved good-by to her, for he did not know that her sign was a speechless appeal for help.

The next moment Livy said “Ida’s driving too fast down hill!” She followed it with a sort of scream “Her horse is running away!”

We could see two hundred  yards down the descent. The buggy seemed to fly. It would strike obstructions & apparently spring the height of a man from the ground. Theodore & I left the shrieking crowd behind & ran down the hill bareheaded and shouting. A neighbor appeared at his gate — a tenth of a second too late! The buggy vanished past him like a thought. My last glimpse showed it for one instant, far down the descent, springing high in the air, out of a cloud of dust, & then it disappeared. As I flew down the road, my impulse was to shut my eyes & so delay for a moment the ghastly spectacle of mutilation & death I was expecting.

I ran on & on , still spared this spectacle, but saying to myself “I shall see it at the turn of the road; they can never turn that pass alive.”  When I came in sight of that turn, I saw two wagons there bunched together — one of them full of people. I said “Just so — they are petrified at the remains.”

But when I got amongst that bunch — there sat Ida in her buggy and nobody hurt, not even the horse or the vehicle. Ida was pale but serene. As I came tearing down she smiled back over her shoulder at me & said, “Well, we’re ALIVE yet, AREN’T we?” A miracle had been performed — nothing less.

You see, Lewis, the prodigious, humped on his front seat, had been toiling up … saw the frantic horse plunging down the hill toward him, on a full gallop, throwing his heels as high as a man’s head at every jump. So Lewis sprang to the ground and…gathered his vast strength & seized the gray horse’s bit as he plunged by, & fetched him up standing.

It was down hill, mind you, ten feet further down hill neither Lewis nor any other man could have saved them, for they would have been on the abrupt “turn” then. But how this miracle was ever accomplished at all, by human strength, generalship, & accuracy, is clear beyond my comprehension, & grows more so the more I go & examine the ground & try to believe it was actually done. I know one thing, well; if Lewis had missed his aim he would have been killed on the spot he had made for himself, and we should have found the rest of the remains away down at the bottom of the steep ravine.” — Mark Twain
Credit: ~ Mark Twain in Elmira, by Jerome & Wisbey.

Twain & Helen Keller

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Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) was an American author, political activist and lecturer. She was the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. The story of how Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan broke through the isolation imposed by a near complete lack of language, allowing the girl to blossom as she learned to communicate, has become widely known through the dramatic depictions of the play and film The Miracle Worker.

A prolific author, Keller was well-traveled, and was outspoken in her opposition to war. A member of the Socialist Party of America and the Wobblies (Industrial Workers of the World) she campaigned for women’s suffrage, workers’ rights, socialism, as well as many other leftist causes.

Twain was an admirer of the remarkable deafblind Helen Keller. He first met Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan at a party in the home of Laurence Hutton in New York City in the winter of 1894. Twain introduced them to Rogers, who, with his wife, paid for Keller’s education at Radcliffe College. Twain is credited with labeling Sullivan, Keller’s governess and companion, a “miracle worker”.

Keller and her friend Mark Twain were both considered radicals at the beginning of the 20th century, and as a consequence, their political views have been forgotten or glossed over in popular perception.
Credit: ~

Keller was able to ‘read’ by placing a hand lightly over a person’s lips. She did this with Twain, and notes in her autobiography:

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I read from Mark Twain’s lips one or two of his good stories. He has his own way of thinking, saying and doing everything. I feel the twinkle of his eye in his handshake. Even while he utters his cynical wisdom in an indescribably droll voice, he makes you feel that his heart is a tender Iliad of human sympathy.
Credit: ~ The Story of My Life, by Helen Keller, page 139 of 1905 edition.

Twain & Albert Bigelow Paine, in Bermuda

Albert Bigelow Paine (10 July 1861 – 9 April 1937) is best remembered as the author of the authorized biography of Mark Twain (1912) and as the editor of Twain’s letters (1917).

Paine was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, relocating to Bentonsport, Iowa when he was one year old. He later moved to St. Louis, where he trained as a photographer, eventually setting up as a dealer in photographic supplies in Fort Scott, Kansas. Paine sold out in 1895 to become a full-time writer, moving to New York. He wrote in several genres, including fiction, humour, and verse, and among his works are several children’s books, including The Hollow Tree and The Arkansas Bear (both 1898); a novel, The Great White Way (1901); and a biography of Thomas Nast (1904).

Paine’s Hollow Tree series consists of short stories about animals, reminiscent of Joel Chandler Harris’s Uncle Remus tales.

He spent most of his life in Europe, including France where he wrote two books about Joan of Arc. This work was so well received in France that he was awarded the title of Chevalier in the Légion d’honneur by the French government.

Paine was a member of the Pulitzer Prize Committee. He was married to Dora and had three daughters.

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Sam Clemens’ biographer, literary executor, and the first editor of the Mark Twain Papers.

Albert Paine, a successful novelist and short story writer first met Sam Clemens at a club dinner in New York City in 1901. They began a correspondence, which led to Paine approaching Clemens about be his biographer. Clemens enthusiastically agreed to the proposal. By January 1906, Paine was living in the Clemens home, and was Sam’s companion for the remainder of his life. Paine conducted extensive research about the life of Clemens, sifting through unpublished manuscripts and visiting places where Clemens spent periods of his life.

After Clemens’ death in 1910, Paine was named literary executor, and had complete control over all of Twain’s unpublished writings. Working closely with Clara Clemens, Paine fashioned a public persona of Twain that showed the utmost respect to the deceased writer. In 1912, Paine published Mark Twain, A Biography, a massive three-volume work considered the most ambitious biography of Twain ever written. Paine would freely edit the unpublished manuscripts, striking out sections to maintain the image of Twain that he believed the world should see; unfortunately, he made no indication exactly which sections had been tampered with. It would take decades for scholars to determine the influence of his editing on the manuscripts.

Under Paine’s influence, a dozen books of unpublished writings were released, including: The Mysterious Stranger, which was completely reworked by Paine and Harper’ editor Frederick Duneka, yet presented as a novel solely written by Twain; Mark Twain’s Autobiography, using only 30% of the autobiographical writings in existance; a collection of 450 letters; and a selection from Twain’s notebooks.
Credit: ~ Michael Waisman.

Twain & Louise Paine

Louise Paine, daughter of Twain’s biographer Albert Bigelow Paine, was a member of the Anglefish Club.

Clemens’s reverence for youth and his sentimental adoration of young women, are themes that pervade his life and works. His love of playfulness, games and performances could embarrass Livy, who would remonstrate with “Oh youth”. But in his later years, Twain’s life became a series of heart-breaks. Neither he or Livy recovered from the early death of Susy in 1895, and with the death of Livy in 1904, Jean’s exiled epilepsy, and Clara’s music career absence, Twain was left depressed, without the family he had cherished, and without grandchildren. The dozen or so young women in his Aquarium Club were his surrogate granddaughters, his fictive kin, filling a dark emotional void with light and smiling innocence. Such diversions no doubt recaptured some of the happiness he had experienced in the Hartford years when his three daughters were young. The anglefish may also have recalled his own lost youth and indulged his lifelong nostalgia for the honesty and simplicity of childhood.

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After my wife’s death, June 5, 1904., l experienced a long period of unrest and loneliness. Clara and Jean were busy with their studies and their labors, and I was washing about on a forlorn sea of banquets and speechmaking in high and holy causes – industries which furnished me intellectual cheer and entertainment, but got at my heart for an evening only, then left it dry and dusty. I had reached the grandpapa stage of life; and what I lacked and what I needed, was grandchildren, but I didn’t know it. By and by this knowledge came by accident, on a fortunate day, a golden day, and my heart has never been empty of grandchildren since. No, it is a treasure-palace of little people whom I worship, and whose degraded and willing slave I am. In grandchildren I am the richest man that lives today: for I select my grandchildren, whereas all other grandfathers have to take them as they come, good, bad or indifferent.
Credit: ~ Mark Twain’s Autobiographical Dictations, 17 April 1908.

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Clemens’s own awareness of his destructive pessimism, of his great rage at the swindle of life, must have driven him all the harder to construct about himself a small court of happiness, innocence, and youthfulness, which he set against the ever painful reality of his life. Thus, his indulgence in stories and tales involving young female characters and his collection of young angelfish serve as a surprising antistrophe to the strophe of his rage and despair.
Credit: ~ Introduction, Mark Twain’s Aquarium:  The Samuel Clemens Anglefish Corespondence, 1905-1910, by Samuel Clemens, John Cooley.

Twain & Dorothy Quick

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Membership in Sam Clemens’ “Aquarium Club“ was easy.  The Qualification for Membership committed to paper in the summer of 1908 but understood by Sam from the very beginning in 1906, required “Sincerity, good disposition, intelligence, and school-girl age.

Of Innocents At Home, the second house Sam built in Connecticut, he said, “I have built this house largely, indeed almost chiefly, for the comfort & accommodation of the Aquarium. Its members will always be welcome under its roof.

And for the most part I can imagine the house was just that. A place for Sam Clemens, Mark Twain or “Youth” as his wife was fond of calling him, to both entertain and be entertained by his young surrogate grandchildren. Angelfish often made extended visits to the house spending as much as ten days there. Accompanied by their mothers, guardians or simply being chaperoned by the household staff. Their main and most important task as members was to correspond with Sam on a regular, and frequent basis. And this they did if often with some proding from Sam. The following is a list of the Anglefish according to the “order of their appointment” to the club as written in the summer of 1908.

Dorothy Butes, 14, England. (honorary)
Frances Nunnally, 16, Georgia.
Dorothy Quick, 10, New Jersey.
Margaret Blackmer, 12, New York.
Irene Gerken, 12, New York
Helen Allen, 13, Bermuda.
Hellen Martin, 13, Canada.
Jean Spurr, 13, New Jersey.
Dorothy Sturgis, 16, Massachusetts.
Margaret Illington, New York.
Dorothy Harvey, 13, New Jersey.
Louise Paine, 13, Connecticut.
Marjorie Breckenridge, 15.

The Aquarium was not S.L.C’s only club. He maintained another, the Juggernaut Club, which comprised older women with whom he corresponded. Among them was Elizabeth Wallace who, in 1913, would publish Mark Twain and the Happy Island. About Twain’s many visits to Bermuda.
Credit: ~

Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Thomas Wentworth Higginson (December 22, 1823 – May 9, 1911), was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was a minister, author, editor, abolitionist and soldier. He was active in the American Abolitionism movement during the 1840s and 1850s.

Higginson’s abolitionist activities included assisting the Underground Railroad. He helped to find shelter and raise money for escaped slaves, often out of his own pocket. On the subject, he said, “”Let every man choose once for all, between his love for freedom, and for a full pocket; for, as I have observed, in this land of liberty it is difficult to combine both.””

In 1853, Higginson was approached by Mr. F. H. Underwood, who was seeking writers to contribute to a new magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, concerned with antislavery and other issues. Though Higginson agreed, the magazine was not published until 1857.

During the Civil War, he served as colonel of the first federally authorized regiment of freed black slaves, the First South Carolina Volunteers, from 1862-1864, recording his experiences in Army Life in a Black Regiment (1870). He was a firm believer in equal rights, regardless of gender, race or creed. After the war, he devoted much of the rest of his life to fighting for the rights of freed slaves, women and other disenfranchised peoples.

In April 1862, Higginson published an article in the Atlantic Monthly, titled “Letter to a Young Contributor,” advising young writers. Emily Dickinson sent four poems to Higginson, who replied requesting more poems. Higginson and Dickinson corresponded until her death in 1886. In 1890, the Dickinson family asked Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd to edit Dickinson’s poems.

Higginson served in the state legislature during the 1880s, advocating civil service reform, and religious and cultural pluralism and tolerance.

Throughout his remaining years, Higginson continued to write essays, biographies and historical works. His love of nature was expressed in nature essays which presented scientific facts in a fashionable literary style. Higginson and Mark Twain met in 1905 through the Dublin Society and became good friends.

He continued to write until his death on May 9, 1911, and was buried in Cambridge Cemetery.

Thomas Brackett Reed

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As Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Thomas Brackett Reed (1839-1902) was called “Czar Reed.” He was one of America’s greatest parliamentarians.

Thomas B. Reed was born on Oct. 18, 1839, in Portland, Maine, an origin stamped in the nasal drawl in which he delivered the corrosive witticisms for which he became famous. Graduating from Bowdoin College in 1860, he studied law, traveled to California, and taught school briefly. In 1865 he joined the Maine bar and entered politics, becoming state legislator (1867-1868), state senator (1869-1870), and attorney general (1870-1873). Elected congressional representative in 1876, he served in the House until 1899.

Congressman Reed’s first important assignment was to the “Potter Committee,” appointed in 1878 to investigate alleged fraud in the Hayes-Tilden presidential election of 1876. Representing the Republican minority, Reed demonstrated that his party was not alone in fraud and even managed to implicate the nephew of Democratic candidate Samuel J. Tilden. During the 1880s Reed emerged as a leading party regular. As Speaker of the House (1889-1891, 1895-1899), he struggled to revise House rules, especially those that allowed the Democratic majority to avoid action through filibustering or absenteeism. His physical appearance, a towering height of 6 feet 3 inches and a weight of almost 300 pounds, contributed to his impressiveness. Although later congresses lessened his power, he helped establish the principle of party responsibility.

Reed was fiercely partisan. Democrats, he said, never spoke without diminishing the sum of human knowledge. “A statesman,” he noted in his most quoted epigram, “is a successful politician who is dead.” Supporting the tariff, hard money, and internal improvements for national purposes, he believed business stability essential to progress. In advance of his time, he opposed capital punishment and advocated woman’s suffrage.

In his later years neither party nor country entirely pleased Reed. “The convention could do worse,” he said of his presidential ambitions in 1896, “and probably will.” He resigned from the House in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War and then practiced law in New York. He died on Dec. 7, 1902, in Washington.

Considered an archconservative by those who opposed his economic views, Reed displayed a genuine humanity and broad learning in his speeches and articles. As a master of the parliamentary skills that make representative government effective, he has rarely been equaled.
Credit: ~

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The great questions before the country while Thomas B. Reed was in Congress were the Southern and race issues, the Greenback and silver questions, the procedure of the House, especially obstruction, civil service reform and the settlement of the monetary standard. Reed was the most powerful figure in either House of Congress during his time.
Credit: ~ Thomas B. Reed: American Statesman Series, by Samuel W. McCall.

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His was a nature which invited affection – compelled it, in fact – and met it half way.  Hence he was “Tom” to the most of his friends, and to half of the nation.

He was wise, he was shrewd and alert, he was a clear and capable thinker, a logical reasoner, and a strong and convincing speaker. His manner was easy and engaging, his speeches sparkled with felicities of phrasing thrown off without apparent effort, and when he needed the happy help of humor he had a mine of it as deep and rich as Kimberly to draw from.
Credit: ~ Mark Twain, 1902 tribute.

Mathew B. Brady

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Mathew B. Brady (May 18, 1822 – January 15, 1896) was one of the most celebrated 19th century American photographers, best known for his portraits of celebrities and his documentation of the American Civil War. He is credited with being the father of photojournalism. His efforts to document the American Civil War on a grand scale by bringing his photographic studio right onto the battlefields earned Brady his place in history.

During the war, Brady spent over $100,000 to create over 10,000 plates. He expected the U.S. government to buy the photographs when the war ended, but when the government refused to do so he was forced to sell his New York City studio and go into bankruptcy. Congress granted Brady $25,000 in 1875, but he remained deeply in debt. Mathew Brady died penniless in the charity ward of Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, on January 15, 1896, from complications following a streetcar accident. He was buried in Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

Levin Corbin Handy, Brady’s nephew by marriage, took over his uncle’s photography business after his death.

Rudyard Kipling

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Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), born to British parents in Mumbai, was a 23-year-old journalist working for a newspaper in Allahabad, India, when he traveled to Elmira, New York, in 1889 to conduct this interview with Mark Twain. Although he enjoyed meeting Kipling, at the time Twain had no idea who he was. Soon after, however, Twain would become an admirer of Kipling’s books, often reading selections from them aloud to his family and friends. The two men stayed in touch and got together when their travels made it possible. In 1895, Twain wrote Kipling: “It is reported that you are about no visit India. This has moved me to journey to that far country in order that I may unload from my conscience a debt long due you. Years ago you came from India to Elmira to visit me, as you said at the time. It has always been my purpose to return that visit and that great compliment some day. I shall arrive next January and you must be ready. I shall come riding my ayah with his trusks adorned with silver bells and ribbons and escorted by a troop of native howdahs richly clad and mounted upon a herd of wild bungalows; and you must be on hand with a few bottles of ghee, for I shall be thirsty.” Twain and Kipling both received honorary degrees in a ceremony at Oxford in 1907.
Credit: ~ The Mark Twain Anthology: Great Writers on His Life and Works (2010), by author/editor Shelley Fisher Fishkin.

Above quote was originally published in The Pioneer, Allahabad, (March 18, 1890), and reprinted in From Sea to Sea (1913).

Twain with Woodrow Wilson & Friends ~ 1908

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In his later years he regarded Bermuda, his second home and spent all the time there he could because it was his nearest foreign English-speaking escape from the USA and troubles that often dogged him there. In Bermuda, he wrote or was inspired to write several of his most significant and last literary pieces; played miniature golf; contributed to petitions including the banning of the automobile in Bermuda; and entertained some of his famous literary and political friends including his great friend Woodrow Wilson (before he became President of the USA).

Twain was outraged when the first ever automobile in Bermuda, owned by the American newspaper magnate James Gordon Bennett, arrived on the latter’s luxurious, coal burning, steam yacht “Lysistrata.” It anchored in Hamilton Harbor in March, 1906. … It was exactly the kind of vehicle that Mark Twain and his friends did not want to see in Bermuda, to spoil their image of Bermuda as a motor-less Eden.

In 1906 these friends were led by Woodrow Wilson, then President of Princeton University but poised to launch his political career in earnest. He was recuperating in Bermuda from an injury incurred earlier which left him temporarily without sight in his left eye.

According to an article from the Chicago Daily Tribune, March 17, 1907 entitled “Mark Twain Seeks Place to Wear White”, Mark Twain headed to Bermuda that day for “summery climes” and was quoted as saying he was “in search of rest, British humor, and an opportunity to appear logical in March in a white suit.”  On the same day, Woodrow Wilson and his special friend Mary Allan Hulbert Peck, who had clearly enchanted Wilson, set out to enjoy a vacation in Bermuda. Interestingly, Twain had met earlier the wealthy industrialist Thomas D. Peck who was married to Mrs. Peck. He and Twain became the best of friends. He was one of the most frequent daily callers at Twain’s “Bay House” Bermuda home, often to ask Twain to join him in games of miniature golf British style, on a putting green. They both enjoyed this relaxing exercise immensely. There is no record of them playing on a regular golf course as none had yet been developed in Bermuda.

But when Bermuda was invaded by Bennett’s noisy, smelly motor car, their golf gave way to a more urgent cause. They drafted a petition to the Bermuda Legislature demanding that motorized vehicles be totally banned in Bermuda. It read in part that it would be a fatal error to attract to Bermuda the extravagant and sporting set who made so many other places entirely intolerable to persons of taste and cultivation. It was a direct reference to Bennett, his yacht and the automobile it carried.

Wilson and Twain lobbied local legislators extensively to ensure the success of their petition. It was effective. It was helped hugely by the fact that in 1908 the first bus on the island was a 12-seater. It frightened a horse, causing a doctor to be tossed to the ground. That incident is believed to have been one of the catalysts – Mark Twain in Bermuda was another – that led to the passing of a law that would ban all motor vehicles from Bermuda’s roads for nearly 30 years. Early in 1910, the Bermuda Legislature resolved to evict motor vehicular traffic from Bermuda’s roads. More than three decades would pass before any more motor cars were allowed to make an appearance on Bermuda’s roads.
Credit: ~

Nikola Tesla

Quote: ~
Mark Twain, the renowned author and humorist, once said: “Thunder is good, thunder is impressive, but it is lightning that does the work.” It is, perhaps, this amazement with magnificent illumination and the ability to manipulate light that drew Twain to Nikola Tesla. The friendship of the two men is well-documented, albeit slightly unusual. Tesla was a tall, slender man with peculiar habits, an oft-forgotten engineer and inventor; Twain, a man with a booming literary voice, was one of the best-known and best-loved of American authors. Yet despite these differences, the two forged a strong and enduring friendship, meeting often at The Player’s Club in Manhattan or in Tesla’s laboratory. It was there that the friends exchanged stories, laughs, and an occasional show of the ‘lightning‘ so esteemed by Mr. Twain.
Credit: ~ Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla: Thunder and Lightning, by Katherine Krumme.

Twain & Friends at Seventieth Birthday ~ 1905

To celebrate Twain’s seventieth birthday, a dinner party was arranged by George Harvey, editor of Harper’s Weekly, and held at Delmonico’s restaurant, NYC, on December 5th, 1905. It was an elaborate and lengthy occasion, with over 170 friends and fellow writers attending. Fifteen formal speeches and toasts were delivered, and musical accompaniment was provided by a forty-piece orchestra.

Guests included: William Dean Howells, Brander Matthews, John Kendrick Bangs, Kate Douglas Riggs, Richard Watson Gilder, Andrew Carnegie, George Washington Cable, Hamilton W. Mabie, Agnes Repplier. Irving Bacheller, Rex E. Beach, Hopkinson Smith, Carolyn Wells, Dr. Van Dyke.

Letters and cablegrams were sent by: Theodore Roosevelt, Amelia E. Barr, Weir Mitchell, Virginia Frazer Boyle, Joe Chandler Harris, Wilber D. Nesbit, Louis Morgan Sill.

Also: “The undersigned send Mark Twain heartiest greetings on his seventieth birthday and cordially wish him long life and prosperity:
Sir William Anson; T. Anstey Guthries (F. Antey); Alfred Austin, poet laureate; Rt. Hon. Arthur Balfour; J. M. Barrie; Augustine Birrell, Kt.; Rt. Hon. James Bryce; Sir Francis Burnand, editor of Punch; Gilbert Chesterton; Churton Collins; W. L. Courteney; Austin Dobson; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; W. S. Gilbert; Edmund Gosse; Francis Carruthers Gould; Thomas Hardy; Anthony Hope; W. W. Jacobs; Rudyard Kipling; Ian Maclaren (Rev. John Watson); W. H. Mallock; George Meredith; Henry Norman; M.P.; Sir Gilbert Parker; Sir John Tenniel, illustrator of Alice in Wonderland; Sir George Otto Trevelyan, historian; Mrs. Humphry Ward; William Watson; Theodore Watts-Dunton; Israel Zangwill; Tauchnitz.”

Quote from Twain’s birthday speech: ~
I have achieved my seventy years in the usual way: by sticking strictly to a scheme of life which would kill anybody else. It sounds like an exaggeration, but that is really the common rule for attaining to old age. …I will offer here, as a sound maxim, this: That we can’t reach old age by another man’s road.

I will now teach, offering my way of life to whomsoever desires to commit suicide by the scheme which has enabled me to beat the doctor and the hangman for seventy years. Some of the details may sound untrue, but they are not. I am not here to deceive; I am here to teach.

We have no permanent habits until we are forty. Then they begin to harden, presently they petrify, then business begins. Since forty I have been regular about going to bed and getting up — and that is one of the main things. I have made it a rule to go to bed when there wasn’t anybody left to sit up with; and I have made it a rule to get up when I had to. This has resulted in an unswerving regularity of irregularity. It has saved me sound, but it would injure another person.

In the matter of diet — which is another main thing — I have been persistently strict in sticking to the things which didn’t agree with me until one or the other of us got the best of it. Until lately I got the best of it myself. But last spring I stopped frolicking with mince-pie after midnight; up to then I had always believed it wasn’t loaded. For thirty years I have taken coffee and bread at eight in the morning, and no bite nor sup until seven-thirty in the evening. Eleven hours. That is all right for me, and is wholesome, because I have never had a headache in my life, but headachy people would not reach seventy comfortably by that road, and they would be foolish to try it.

I have made it a rule never to smoke more than one cigar at a time. I have no other restriction as regards smoking. I do not know just when I began to smoke, I only know that it was in my father’s lifetime, and that I was discreet. He passed from this life early in 1847, when I was a shade past eleven; ever since then I have smoked publicly. As an example to others, and not that I care for moderation myself, it has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep, and never to refrain when awake. It is a good rule. I mean, for me; but some of you know quite well that it wouldn’t answer for everybody that’s trying to get to be seventy.

I smoke in bed until I have to go to sleep; I wake up in the night, sometimes once, sometimes twice, sometimes three times, and I never waste any of these opportunities to smoke. This habit is so old and dear and precious to me that I would feel as you, sir, would feel if you should lose the only moral you’ve got — meaning the chairman — if you’ve got one: I am making no charges. I will grant, here, that I have stopped smoking now and then, for a few months at a time, but it was not on principle, it was only to show off; it was to pulverize those critics who said I was a slave to my habits and couldn’t break my bonds.

To-day it is all of sixty years since I began to smoke the limit. I have never bought cigars with life-belts around them. I early found that those were too expensive for me. I have always bought cheap cigars — reasonably cheap, at any rate. Sixty years ago they cost me four dollars a barrel, but my taste has improved, latterly, and I pay seven now. Six or seven. Seven, I think. Yes, it’s seven. But that includes the barrel. I often have smoking-parties at my house; but the people that come have always just taken the pledge. I wonder why that is?

As for drinking, I have no rule about that. When the others drink I like to help, otherwise I remain dry, by habit and preference. This dryness does not hurt me, but it could easily hurt you, because you are different. You let it alone.

Since I was seven years old I have seldom taken a dose of medicine, and have still seldomer needed one. But up to seven I lived exclusively on allopathic medicines. Not that I needed them, for I don’t think I did; it was for economy; my father took a drug-store for a debt, and it made cod-liver oil cheaper than the other breakfast foods. We had nine barrels of it, and it lasted me seven years. Then I was weaned. The rest of the family had to get along with rhubarb and ipecac and such things, because I was the pet. I was the first Standard Oil Trust. I had it all. By the time the drug-store was exhausted my health was established, and there has never been much the matter with me since. But you know very well it would be foolish for the average child to start for seventy on that basis. It happened to be just the thing for me, but that was merely an accident; it couldn’t happen again in a century.

I have never taken any exercise, except sleeping and resting, and I never intend to take any. Exercise is loathsome. And it cannot be any benefit when you are tired; and I was always tired. But let another person try my way, and see where he will come out.

I desire now to repeat and emphasize that maxim: We can’t reach old age by another man’s road. My habits protect my life, but they would assassinate you.