Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: An American Story – $150
Mark Twain described Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as “a book of mine where a sound heart and a deformed conscience come into collision and conscience suffers defeat.” This hour-long program considers how Twain came to recognize the way his own conscience was “deformed” with regards to racism and white supremacy, and explores the ways he successfully – and not-so-successfully – worked to reform it. While this program is an excellent companion to reading Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, participants do not need to have read the book to fully engage with and learn from this program.
Mark Twain in Connecticut – $150
Although his most famous works were set along the Mississippi River of his childhood, Mark Twain composed those novels while living in Nook Farm, a neighborhood of Hartford full of celebrated literary figures. This program explores what drew Twain to this city of industry and energy, including its vibrant community of authors and activists, including novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe, travel writer and journalist Charles Dudley Warner, Civil War hero and senator Joseph Hawley, and female suffrage campaigner Isabella Beecher Hooker. It also considers way Twain’s decades in Connecticut shaped his writing, family, and social life.
Mark Twain in the Margins – $150
Mark Twain had a lifelong habit of writing in the margins of the books he read – and it did not always matter whether the book actually belonged to him. He commented acerbically on the authors and their work – “by an ass” was a favorite phrase – and made other, longer comments that tell us about the man and his thoughts. His marginalia are his “conversation” with the books he was reading, and there are many examples of this in the library collection of The Mark Twain House & Museum.
Mark Twain, World Traveler – $150
At 17, Samuel Clemens told his mother “I want to move, move, MOVE!” Move he did, with travel serving as a central feature of his personal life and the driving engine for much of his writing career. From mining towns in Nevada and California to dispatches sent from Hawaii and the Holy Land, Twain built a solid career as a journalist and travel writer before achieving success as a fiction writer, but he never left travel behind. Themes of travel, mobility, and cultural contact pervade his fiction, and its success was driven by Twain’s repeated national and global speaking tours. This program explores Twain’s experience with and relationship to travel, including its effect on his social views.
Mark Twain and the American Presidents – $200
Mark Twain’s frank observations about American culture in the Gilded Age often ring true today. Corruption, national identity, the power of big business, and America’s global role were just as contested then as they are now. His funny, insightful observations about the presidents of his day apply readily to the modern presidency.