Begin at the Mark Twain House, the magnificent Victorian Gothic mansion where Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, lived with his family from 1874 to 1891 as he wrote Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Life on the Mississippi and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, among other works. Clemens spent his happiest days in the 19-room house, and some of his saddest as well. Tours are available throughout the day.
Mark Twain's Hartford
Ernest Hemingway once declared that “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.” And on this Getaway you can see where Huckleberry Finn was written. You can also take in places in Hartford that Twain frequented and that were important to him.
Clemens lived in a cluster of properties called Nook Farm, where other writers, editors and local luminaries also settled. One neighbor was Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose historic house remains open to the public as the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. The author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin spent her last 23 years in Hartford, and many of her belongings are on display.
The conception, fundraising and completion of Hartford’s Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch almost exactly coincides with Twain’s time in the city. Made of brownstone from quarries in nearby Portland, the Gothic-style arch is a memorial to the Civil War dead and those who served – it is the first permanent triumphal arch to be erected in America.
Twain is not buried in Hartford’s Cedar Hill Cemetery, but many of his contemporaries are, including writer and editor Charles Dudley Warner, financier John Pierpont Morgan, businessman Gilbert F. Heublein and many others. The cemetery’s 270 acres are beautifully landscaped and many of the monuments are works of art.
If you have time, get out to Talcott Mountain State Park in Simsbury, where Twain used to hike with friends for the view from what is now known at Heublein Tower. Over the years, five towers have stood on this prominent perch; in Twain’s day it was known as Bartlett’s Tower and it was a very popular local destination before burning down in 1936.