Mark Twain

One of the most famous pen names in literary history visited Richmond on Jan. 3, 1872 to talk about buying a horse.

Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, appeared at Richmond’s Lyceum Hall in 1872 to lecture on his California 'Roughing It’ experiences. The great American writer enjoyed immense popularity worldwide due to his keen wit and incisive satire.

In four years he would write The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. In twelve years he would write the first-published novel typed on a typewriter, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

The Richmond Telegram described the literary humorist as “not handsome but having a bright intelligent look, and an eye with a humorous twinkle that put him in rapport with his audience.”

Twain introduced himself lavishly and praised his favorite introduction ever…made by someone he’d visited in a Penitentiary, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is Mark Twain. He has never been to prison, and many people wonder why.”

Twain later mused:

“Man is the Only Animal that Blushes. Or needs to… Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry… Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer… The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.”

Mark Twain ended the lecture with some “amusing moral reflections” regarding sword dueling which, he said, he never quite got the point of.




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June 19, 2012