We have a varied and wonderful schedule of events at the Hartford house through July for "The Trouble Begins at 5:30" -- our series of free Twainian and nearly Twainian after-work lectures at that always draw a good crowd. We adopted the name with deep apologies to Barb Snedecor and Elmira, which of course has long presented a superb "The Trouble Begins at Eight" series in the Quarry Farm barn. And we apologize -- via a medium -- to Mr. Clemens, who of course dreamed up the poster language in the first place. See below.
-- best, Steve
"The Trouble Begins at 5:30," The Mark Twain House & Museum's free series that has offered good food and drink, good conversation and intriguing, Twainian after-work lectures since 2010, is expanding to a monthly schedule.
The popular series, traditionally preceded by hors d'oeuvres and wine at 5:00 p.m., runs the second Wednesday of each month. The series takes its name from Twain's own lecture posters, which were headed "The Trouble Begins at Eight." "The Trouble Begins at 5:30" receives generous funding from First Niagara Bank Foundation, Inc. It is also supported by Connecticut Explored magazine, Hot Tomato's restaurant and The Friends of the Mark Twain House & Museum.
Wednesday, February 13. "Mark Twain, the Maori, and the Mystery of Livy's Jade Pendant" -- Using Twain's letters and unpublished notebooks, noted Twain scholar Kerry Driscoll of the University of St. Joseph will reconstruct the hidden story of the five weeks the Clemens family spent touring New Zealand in November-December 1895, an experience would radically re-shape Twain's racial attitudes for the remainder of his life. Included is Dr. Driscoll's description of an extraordinary discovery within the Mark Twain House & Museum's own collections.
Wednesday, March 13. "Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles Through Islamic Africa." Author Steve Kemper on the German explorer and contemporary of Twain Heinrich Barth. In 1849 Barth joined a small British expedition into unexplored regions of Islamic North and Central Africa. One by one his companions died, but he carried on alone, eventually reaching the fabled city of gold, Timbuktu. His five-and-a-half-year, 10,000-mile adventure ranks among the greatest journeys in the annals of exploration. It was age when both Europeans and Americans like Mark Twain were deeply attracted to the exoticism of the Muslim world. Kemper is the author of Labyrinth of Kingdoms, an account of Barth's ordeal. (A booksigning follows the event.)
Wednesday, April 10. "Artemus Ward: The Gentle Humorist and His Lecture Influence on Mark Twain." Scholar John Pascal on another Twain contemporary and friend, and a favorite of Lincoln's, humorist Artemus Ward. Ward was America's preeminent literary comedian prior to Mark Twain's emergence as a serious humorist during the 1870s and 1880s. As the unofficial jester of the Civil War Period, Ward was "The Man Who Made Lincoln Laugh." He awakened in Twain the possibilities of being a comic writer and directly influenced Twain's lecture style, which Twain acknowledged.
Wednesday, May 8. "Dear Mark Twain: Letters from His Readers". Noted Twain scholar R. Kent Rasmussen speaks on his new book of contemporary fan letters to the author: Dear Mark Twain: Letters from His Readers. A voracious pack-rat, Twain hoarded his readers' letters; the book collects 200 of them written by children, farmers, schoolteachers, businessmen, preachers, railroad clerks, inmates of mental institutions, con artists, and even a former president. Clemens's own and often startling comments and replies are also included. (A booksigning follows the event.)
Wednesday June 12. "Mark Twain's Homes and Literary Tourism." Scholar Hilary Iris Lowe on her book of the same name, which untangles the complicated ways that Clemens's houses, now museums, have come to tell the stories that they do about Twain, reminding us that the sites themselves are the products of multiple agendas and, in some cases, unpleasant histories. Lowe leads us through four Twain homes, from his birthplace in Florida, Missouri, through Hannibal, Missouri, his childhood home, to Elmira, his summer home during the Hartford years, and -- of course -- our own Mark Twain House in Hartford. (A booksigning follows the event.)
Wednesday, July 10. "Hartford in the Gilded Age." In conjunction with our exhibit "The Gilded Age in Hartford," Andrew Walsh of Trinity College will explore the disparities of wealth and poverty, the vibrant social interaction and the explosion of creativity that characterized the city in the era named by Mark Twain. Andrew Walsh is a wry and witty speaker, and a specialist in American religious history and urbanism with a long involvement in the city's history, including Trinity's famed Hartford History Project in the 1990s. Since 1997 he has been Associate Director of the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life.
Publicist & Publications Editor
The Mark Twain House & Museum
351 Farmington Avenue
Hartford, Connecticut 06105
860-247-0998, Ext. 243
[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>