"It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Remembering Jean Clemens

"There was never a kinder heart than Jean's. From her childhood up she always spent the most of her allowance on charities of one kind and another. After she became secretary and had her income doubled she spent her money upon these things with a free hand. Mine too, I am glad and grateful to say."
--Mark Twain, "The Death of Jean"

Yesterday in the Hartford Courant, I came across an excellent article commemorating the life of Sam Clemens' youngest daughter, and the last he saw die in his lifetime. It's an excellent piece on a sad, yet inspiring young woman who struggled with epilepsy all her life, and held a very special place in her famous father's heart.

After her infamous death in the bathtub of Twain's own Redding, Connecticut home on Christmas Eve 1909, the author was so broken up that he could not even attend the funeral, instead opting to morosely watch the hearse leave for the burial in Elmira, New York. Within a year's time, the heartbroken Twain himself would also be dead.

I encourage all to check out the superb article by Susan Campbell right here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Twain Museum Offering Writers' Workshops

If you happen to be in the area of Hannibal, Missouri, or if you're up for a trip, you might want to look up the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, which will be offering adult writers' workshops, according to the Hannibal Courier-Post.

The workshops will take place throughout the fall, and will be run by Dr. Cindy Lovell, the museum's executive director. Naturally, a large part of the contents of the workshop will be drawn from Mark Twain's own advice to writers. As writing advice goes, I can't imagine it gets much more reliable than that!

“We’ll begin with these one-day workshops and see if there is an interest in expanding them into something like a writers’ weekend at some point,” Lovell said. “For now it will be fun to use Mark Twain’s writing advice as a jumping off point for writers. It will be fun.”

For more information on the where, when and how, check out the official website of the Mark Twain Museum.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Philosopher and the Frog

What possible serendipity could bring together the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain, a talking frog and a mountain man?

You may believe that much is known about America’s finest philosopher. But the sage of Concord has an imaginative side unrevealed until now. This work of historical fiction by Phil Gates takes you into his mysterious world, and into his contemplative walks to Walden Pond where he encountered Henry Thoreau, the frog he mentored toward self-realization and, ultimately, ascension.

Gates sets his novel in the middle of the Civil War while the explosive energy of westward expansion moves at a frenzied pace. The story of a perilous cross-country journey to California’s gold fields in 1863 is a rambunctious and delightful saga. Its tapestry includes the movers and shakers of the 19th century—the politicians, preachers, soldiers, trappers, charlatans and poets. It leads us to inquire and perhaps to answer life’s fundamental question: Who am I?

It would be a shame to miss this adventure.
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