Mrs. Williams’ Junior Class Visits the Mark Twain House


Loretta Williams

Mrs. Williams & Finn Hogan – pose with members of the class around a life-sized LEGO version of Mark Twain on March 29, 2018

Finn Hogan, Contributor

After a long, full two weeks of school, Mrs. Williams and her junior honors English students took a day off to visit the home of renowned American author Mark Twain in Hartford, Connecticut.

Following a brief orientation about the history of Mark Twain, the students had the opportunity to take a forty-five minute tour through the writer’s house. The building itself, constructed in the year 1873, was specifically designed for Twain and his family. The students learned that Twain, whose real name was Sam Clemens, moved into the house in 1874 with his wife Livvy and his daughters Clara, Susy, and Jean. The house is three stories tall, primarily made of wood, and was designed by the designers of Tiffany’s jewelry and glass. According to Twain’s journals, he wrote several of his works in his office on the third floor, including a few chapters of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

The juniors toured several rooms in the house on all three floors, including the parlor, the dining room, the library, the girls schoolroom, and Twain’s third floor study. The curators of the museum have taken great care of the house, and they informed the students that the walls and several pieces of furniture were originals that Twain had owned and placed in that house.

Students were divided into three groups. While one or two groups explored the house, the others would spend time in the Mark Twain museum. Everyone then watched a twenty-three minute film on Twain and his experience living in Hartford, and later, they learned about the printing press that reportedly destroyed Twain’s fortune for several years.

Along with the house tour and the film, students were allowed to walk through an exhibit about the pets that Twain’s family owned. The display also explained how Twain would incorporate his love for his pets and other animals into some stories. The family owned several pets, including three border collies named I Know, You Know, and Don’t Know, his daughter’s calf Jumbo, and his several cats such as Satan, Pestilence, Famine, and Sour Mash.

For the students, the trip was a wonderful, interactive learning experience about an author whom they had only known from one perspective: his stories. Now, the students have gained exposure to the daily life of Mark Twain and insight into the environment in which he wrote. Mrs. Williams’ students are some of the few Americans who have had the opportunity to see Mark Twain as more than the man who wrote The Celebrated Jumping Frog or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; instead, they now know him as a writer, a father, and an animal lover.


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