The Mark Twain House & Museum can bring you five distinctive, entertaining and interactive presentations on Mark Twain’s life, work and interests. If you are looking for a program on literature, history, sports and culture and/or social justice, we can provide a 60-minute presentation that is sure to delight and educate. Book your program today by calling our Educational Program Manager:
In 1881, Mark Twain endorsed and patronized the Parisian art education of Charles Ethan Porter, a talented African American artist from Hartford, Connecticut. However, two years later Twain wrote in a letter that appears to be the author’s last mention of his young protégé that Porter seemed to be “going to the dogs.”
Did Twain and Porter’s relationship come to an end? If so, why? What did Twain mean by his disparaging characterization of Porter? What can this mystery tell us about the two men and the times in which they lived, especially with regard to issues of race and class in Gilded Age America? These questions, and related evidence from local, national, and international history are explored in a thought-provoking power point presentation.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) are two “boys’ books” that helped to make Twain rich and famous, but they are radically different in both substance and tone.
The audience will have an opportunity to learn what motivated Mark Twain to write a sequel composed of two such distinct stories, and to see how both the joy and tragedy of Samuel Clemens’ own maturation as a businessman, husband, father and writer spurred him to pen perhaps his two most popular books. 60 minutes.
This presentation reaffirms the importance of Mark Twain’s masterpiece by placing it within the context of the larger history of race relations in America from slavery to the modern Civil Rights Movement. It also demonstrates how the book continues to be a catalyst for positive social change. 60 minutes.
Audiences explore how a “Missouri ruffian” like Samuel Clemens who, as a consequence of his having resided in Connecticut’s capital city for twenty years, was transformed into the “Hartford luminary” known as “Mark Twain.” Clemens once said of Hartford that “I think this is the best-built and handsomest town I have ever seen,” and this judgment had a great deal to do with why he and his family settled here in a remarkable house located on Farmington Avenue in the fashionable Hartford neighborhood of Nook Farm. If time permits, a 20 minute DVD can also be viewed to see how this home, which the Clemens’ left in 1891, was saved from demolition and eventually became The Mark Twain House & Museum we all treasure today. 60 minutes.
Mark Twain once said that baseball was “the very symbol of the raging, tearing, booming nineteenth century,” a very apt description of the national pastime during the Gilded Age which echoes his lifelong interest in the struggle of America to achieve a “more perfect union” with regard to ethnicity, race, gender, class and the use of American power abroad. As an owner of Hartford’s own minor league baseball club, Twain was aware of how the “national game” mirrored the best and the worst traits of our national character, developing these themes most comprehensively in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. 60 minutes.
During this program, representatives from both the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and Mark Twain House and Museum will place Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in proper historical context to enhance understanding for how these books had such a profound influence on race relations in the United States over the past 150 years, and why they continue to have relevance to our cross-cultural dialog even today.
In his celebrated 1869 travel book The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain wrote that: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.” The mature Mark Twain was the most recognized American in the world, and was perhaps the best “good will ambassador” we have ever had as a nation. This 30-minute presentation surveys the far-flung journeys of Mark Twain and illustrates how a boy with a parochial and bigoted upbringing was gradually transformed into a far more enlightened and tolerant man who came to champion human rights and equality across the globe. 30 minutes.
Although Mark Twain is universally remembered as America’s most beloved humorist and author, he actually found the jobs of lecturing and writing to be very exhausting and tedious. He spent much of his life pursuing business interests that he hoped would make him independently wealthy and would free him from the very professional tasks that had made him so famous. Unfortunately, Twain’s love of enterprise and cutting edge technology was belied by a very poor business acumen and just plain bad luck. This program examines how Twain made his fortune, then went bankrupt, and late in life restored his financial solvency. It is often a very funny story, but at times it is also quite tragic. 30 minutes.
This 20-minute program introduces Mark Twain to a younger audience, and allows them to actually try to do what Twain did best: make up stories! The program features Twain’s love of animals, particularly cats, and shows how all kinds of different critters inspired many of his most famous and humorous tales. Just as Twain created nightly bedtime stories for his three daughters using for inspiration the bric-a-brac on the mantel in the library of his home, so too will students be asked to collaboratively improvise the telling of a new story based on a selection of Victorian objects that they may have never seen before. The results are certainly creative, but they are also almost always hilarious! 30 minutes.
A discussion of the most important ladies in Twain's life: his witty, powerful, and sometimes disapproving wife, Livy; his daughters: the amazingly creative Susy, Clara who kept an iron grip on his legacy for decades and Jean, the sheltered one, who came into her own in her last years. 45 minutes.
The Hartford home of Mark Twain and his family was designed as a showpiece; a visual representation of the celebrated author who lived within its walls. Hear about the family's design choices, particularly the interior design work of Louis C. Tiffany & Co., Associated Artists, and see the splendor that is the restored Mark Twain House today. 45 minutes.
Enjoy tales of holiday celebrations that took place in the Clemens family's home and see images of the glorious Victorian era holiday decorations at the museum in Hartford. Hear some engaging quotes from Twain and his family and the wonderful tales which he told his children while they gathered around the fireplace. 45 minutes.
Mark Twain has been called "the Lincoln of our literature, "the nation's first rock star," and "the Son of the devil." Throughout his life, he was acutely aware of the public's perception of him, and was actively involved in its formation. Using his lifestyle, writings, and public appearances, he worked to become known not only as a humorist, but also as a political commentator, family man, international diplomat, philosopher, and all-around American. The success of Twain's strategy is apparent; in the over 100 years since his death, his persona is still as identifiable, vibrant, and relevant as it ever was. 45 minutes.
Mark Twain had a lifelong habit of writing in the margins of the books he read – and it didn’t 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 a lot about the man and the thoughts that led to his most famous writings. His marginalia have been called 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. Mallory Howard has made a particular study of them – and was involved in the recent discovery of a whole new set of marginal comments.
To reserve a Mark Twain House & Museum educational program, call Educational Program Director Craig Hotchkiss at (860) 280-3146. These 60-minute programs can be scheduled on a mutually agreeable date and are generally available year-round during the day or early evening.
|* mileage is calculated at $0.55 per mile, round-trip.|
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Writing at the Mark Twain House
Improve and develop your writing where Twain wrote. Our Writing at the Mark Twain House programs, launched in 2010, have created deep bonds among participants and instructors alike. Click here.