Throughout the 1800s Connecticut was an epicenter for literary greats.
Cambridge was home to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who frequently hosted Nathaniel Hawthorne and Charles Dickens (both had homes in the state as well). Ralph Waldo Emmerson made his home in Concord and towards the later part of the century the state it also became home to Samuel Clemons, better known to the literary world as Mark Twain.
Twain, who had been living in Buffalo, New York, chose to move his family to Hartford, Connecticut after finding himself smitten with the town after visiting a local publisher. His wife also had family connections to the city and the couple agreed it would be an ideal place to raise a family. For the first few years they rented a house in the heart of Nook Farm. At the time this residential area was somewhat of an oasis for writers, publishers, and other prominent literary figures in the area. While living there the couple’s first daughter was born. Sadly, they also lost their two-year-old son, Langdon, to diphtheria shortly thereafter.
Around 1874 the 25-room family home on Farmington Avenue was complete and that is where they lived for the next 17 years. This family home is where Twain completed some of his most famous works including: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi, The Prince and the Pauper, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and finally Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Although the books were very successful, a series of bad investments pushed him into bankruptcy. The family left the home and Connecticut in 1891 and, due to a series of unfortunate events, never returned.
The Mark Twain House & Museum, located at 351 Farmington Avenue, is now a National Historic Landmark. The property is a stunning example of Picturesque Gothic architecture, and features a dramatic grand hall, a lush glass conservatory, a grand library and the handsome billiard room where Twain was said to have spent his time writing. Throughout the years, The Mark Twain House & Museum presents special events and educational programs that focus on Twain’s literary legacy.
For more information regarding admission and hours, call 860-247-0998 or visit the website at marktwainhouse.org.