Continuing the sub-series on Mark Twain (1835-1910), author of Extracts from Adam’s Diary…
The Clemens lived in Hartford, CT from about 1871-1891. At the time Hartford was one of the wealthiest cities in America.
They built a 3-story, 19-room house in Hartford, CT. Their 3 daughters were born in Hartford, and this is the period in which Twain wrote his best-known works.
The Billiards Room, comprising the entire third floor, was completely off-limits to all but Twain and specially invited guests. About the room Twain expressed the unbiblical attitude,
“There ought to be a room in this house to swear in. It’s dangerous to have to repress an emotion like that…Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.”
The Billiards Room is where Twain did his writing and entertained select male guests with cigars and liquor.
The 1st-floor library sports an enormous beautiful hand-carved fireplace mantle that the Clemens purchased in Scotland. The library also features hand-stenciled paneling and embossed wallpapers.
One of the eccentricities for which Twain is well-known is his trademark white suit. Despite popular lore that he wore white suits throughout his life, there is no evidence that he did so before Livy’s death in 1904 except for a single picture. Following her death he began wearing white suits on the lecture circuit for a few years, but only rarely after 1907.
How did the white suit become such a trademark for Twain? The sensation he caused in wearing a white suit to a wintertime Congressional hearing helped cement the behavior in the public’s mind. At the hearing Twain told reporters,
“I have found that when a man reaches the advanced age of 71 years as I have, the continual sight of dark clothing is likely to have a depressing effect upon him. Light-colored clothing is more pleasing to the eye and enlivens the spirit. Now, of course, I cannot compel every one to wear such clothing just for my especial benefit, so I do the next best thing and wear it myself.” (The New York Times, December 8, 1906)
But more significantly, actor Hal Holbrook’s 50-year-long stage rendition Mark Twain Tonight of Twain in a white suit likely has the most to do with prevalence of the idea today.
Twain did pay attention to clothes. He quipped:
“If God had meant for us to be naked, we’d have been born that way.”
“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.”
The next post, 13. Adam’s Diary – Mark Twain V, will continue with Twain’s life as an author, humorist, and literary critic.
Read the prequels in this series on Adam’s Diary:
1. Adam’s Diary – A New Creature
2. Adam’s Diary – Naming the Animals
3. Adam’s Diary – Garden of Eden
4. Adam’s Diary – “We”
5. Adam’s Diary – Sunday
6. Adam’s Diary – Eve
7. Adam’s Diary – Niagara Falls
8. Adam’s Diary – Escape
9. Adam’s Diary – Mark Twain I
10. Adam’s Diary – Mark Twain II
11. Adam’s Diary – Mark Twain III
Read the sequel:
13. Adam’s Diary – Mark Twain V
©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
Thursday May 6, 2010 A.D.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.