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Twain Boyhood Hometwain-house-2

This Monday, November 30, is the 180th anniversary of the day Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) arrived in the world, and the occasion is being celebrated at two literary sites associated with the writer.

Mark TwainTwain’s distinctive facial feature is being touted during a birthday bash at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum (above left) in Hannibal, Missouri. Part of the festivities include a Mustache Contest with categories such as the “Mark Twain” for the one that bears the greatest resemblance to the writer’s own (dubbed the Walrus) and the “Dapper Stache,” the one most full of character and originality (styling aids are encouraged). November 28, 1 p.m. There is a $5 fee to enter the contest, and prizes will be awarded to the winners.

The Mark Twain House & Museum (above right) in Hartford, Connecticut, is hosting a reading of “Colonel Sellers: Reanimated,” based on one of the writer’s forgotten pieces—with a twist. Steampunk and zombie stories like The Walking Dead are currently in vogue, but Twain was well ahead of the trend. In 1883, he and a friend penned a play, Colonel Sellers as a Scientist, that contained elements of both but was panned by critics. In “Colonel Sellers: Reanimated,” playwright and Mark Twain House staffer Jacques Lamarre has refashioned the original into a Steampunk-zombie mash-up comedy. November 30, 7 p.m. Tickets are $10; $5 for members.

At both events, revelers will be served birthday cake and given a sneak peek at the designs of Mark Twain commemorative coins in gold and silver to be released by the U.S. Mint in early 2016. A portion of the purchase price of the coins will benefit four sites: The Center for Mark Twain Studies in Elmira, New York; the Mark Twain Project at the University of California, Berkeley; the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford; and the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal. We’ll share more details about the coins soon.

pilaster_houseOne of our readers, Gary Wyatt, wrote in to tell us the unfortunate news that Grant’s Drugstore, where Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) once lived, has been placed on Missouri Preservation’s “Most Endangered Buildings” list.  The writer’s father died there while the family resided in rooms over the pharmacy and  he mentions it several times in his autobiography. The building, which currently houses a recreation of a period drug store and is a part of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum complex in Hannibal, was discovered to be in danger of collapse. Donations are being solicited to undertake critical restoration work. Among the many ways you can support the Twain legacy and the historic boyhood sites associated with him are by applying for a Mark Twain VISA card (a portion of all sales will be donated to the museum at no cost to the consumer), by signing a petition to designate 2010 as “The Year of Mark Twain” (2010 marks the 100th anniversary of the author’s death), or by simply donating a dollar for each Twain book you have read to contribute to the museum’s “One Book, One Buck” program.

becky_thatcher_homeThanks in part to the previous donations of Twain fans, restoration work is proceeding on another important site within the Hannibal historic complex–the Becky Thatcher home. The little white frame house (which last week was revealed to have been painted beige during Becky’s time) was once the home of Laura Hawkins, Mark Twain’s childhood sweetheart and the model for Becky. The house is expected to reopen to visitors this fall.

buildingIn the meantime, visitors to Hannibal can still see  the many other wonderful sites within the museum complex, including the Twain family’s small frame house at 208 Hill Street , which has been recreated with period furniture, and the Museum Gallery, originally an 1850s department store that is now home to many fascinating exhibits about Twain’s life.  On display in Hannibal are many Twain artifacts like one of his famous white jackets (believed to be the only one still in existence), his writing desk, chair and typewriter.

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“The goal of this book is to triple the size of your To Be Read pile,” claims Jane Mount in Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany. I’m always thrilled for new reading suggestions, and there are plenty of them in this gorgeous and fun book, from Coming of Age novels to 1800s Brit Lit. There are place-themed pictorials, too—beloved bookstores, striking libraries, and literary sites like Thoreau’s one-room cabin at Walden Pond and the West Yorkshire parsonage where the Brontë sisters lived and wrote. 📚 But my favorite section is Writers’ Pets, with drawings of Mark Twain’s black cat Bambino, Flannery O’Connor’s peacock Limpy, John Steinbeck’s travel mate, the standard poodle Charley, and other classic writers’ companions. #animalsrock #booksrule #readingsuggestions #literarysites #bibliophileanillustratedmiscellany #janemount #chroniclebooks
Favorite reads of 2018. So many blue covers are a coincidence, although it is my favorite color. All of these stories are tinged with sadness but also hope and humor. Two of them I loved so much that I didn’t want them to end. I set them aside for weeks before going back to finish the final chapters (The Death of Bees and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine). One made me cry and curse (A Man Called Ove). Two were book club selections (Another Brooklyn and An American Marriage). The latter inspired our most in-depth discussion, bringing up issues of marriage (of course), loyalty, race, and more. And Dickens’ storytelling stands the test of time. Originally published in serial form, Oliver Twist is a roller-coaster of a read. I fell hard for Oliver and the people that band together to keep him out of villainous hands. #somuchgreatstorytelling #books #bookish #bookstagram #bookrecs #read #reading #eleanoroliphantiscompletelyfine #thedeathofbees #anamericanmarriage #amancalledove #anotherbrooklyn #olivertwist
The last three of my book group’s picks for 2018, all of which are great reads. We take turns choosing what we’ll read each month, and the person whose turn it is has sole discretion over the selection. It’s a fun way to do it, as each time it’s a complete surprise. I’m already mulling over options for our February meet-up when it’s my turn to select. Suggestions welcome! #bookclub #bookgroup #greatreads #greatdiscussions #bookstagram #igreads #bibliophiles #pachinko #thesympathizer #thelefthandofdarkness

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