Friday, November 12, 2010

Mark Twain in New Hampshire

Like millions of other tourists,
Mark Twain vacationing
in New Hampshire, 1905
This week Mark Twain’s long awaited autobiography will be published. Long awaited indeed! Twain ordered that the book wait to be released 100 years after his death. This is not the white washed Mark Twain the media has portrayed in recent years. He had a nasty sense of humor, and was very political. He loved to poke fun, but didn’t want to be around when the recipients of his barbs read his comments. The first volume of three will be released on November 15, 2010.

Twain used to vacation in Dublin, New Hampshire. Considering that he lived in Hartford, Connecticut, a summer trip to New Hampshire was a relatively easy trip. He spent at least two summers in a rented farmhouse here. In a 1905 interview for the New York Times he said "Last January, when we were beginning to inquire about a home for this summer, I remembered that Abbott Thayer had said, three years before, that the New Hampshire highlands was a good place. He was right - it is a good place.”

One of Twain’s best friends was Thomas Bailey Aldrich of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Aldrich was the author of The Story of a Bad Boy, which preceded Twain’s books about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. At the time, Aldrich’s book was a best seller, and it instituted a new form of literature about mischievous childhoods. Previous children's books were always based on morality lessons, instead of pure fun. Today, Aldrich's book is virtually unknown, but Twain’s books are considered American classics.

Mark Twain came to Portsmouth once to dedicate a museum to Aldrich. He did not enjoy his trip to the New Hampshire seacoast as much as his trip to Dublin in the Monadnock Mountain region. In fact, he said many nasty things about Portsmouth, and also quite a few pejorative remarks about Mrs. Aldrich! According to the index of the new autobiography, he mentions these in his new book. I rather think that Twain is sitting in paradise just chuckling about that right now….

For more information:

Autobiography of Mark Twain: The Complete and Authoritative Edition, Volume I, by Mark Twain, University of California Press, 2010 Portsmouth’s historian J. Dennis Robinson describes Twain’s relationship with Aldrich in great detail.

Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. It is one of seven photographs taken in Dublin, New Hampshire by Albert Bigelow Paine, Twain’s biographer.

Quote from The New York Times, November 26, 1905, Mark Twain: A Humorists Confession, by A. E. Thomas.

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Glad you wrote this, and I look forward in reading the reviews first. Bet it will be an interesting read tho. He had taste, because he vacationed in Dublin, I wonder where, but I bet by the lake. Thanks for this are making me smarter, bit by bit.

  2. This will be a real treat! Forgot that it was due out - I should have remembered because of Halley's comet, though.