Because Mark Twain traveled widely and lived in several places, the centennial of his death has prompted special events at Twain-related sites across the U.S. Among them:
In Florida, Mo., about 40 miles west of Hannibal, Missouri's parks department operates the Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site, 37352 Shrine Road, (573) 565-3449, http://www.mostateparks.com/twainsite.htm, which includes the cabin where Twain was born in 1835. Closed for asbestos remediation late last year, the site reopened April 21, the 100th anniversary of the writer's death.
In Hartford, Conn.: The Mark Twain House & Museum, 351 Farmington Ave., (860) 247-0998, http://www.marktwainhouse.org, has an exhibition analyzing public perception of the author since 1910. (Among the readers quoted: Booker T. Washington and Benito Mussolini.) The show will remain up through January. The keepers of the house, a 19-room Victorian mansion where Clemens and his family lived from 1874 until 1891, are also offering half a dozen evening "ghost" tours that include accounts of Victorian séances and reported mysterious knocks, bangs, voices and apparitions.
In Elmira, N.Y.: The Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College, 1 Park Place, Elmira, (607) 735-1800, http://www.elmira.edu/academics/distinctive_programs/twain_center, includes the octagonal study where Twain is said to have worked on "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" and "Roughing It," among other writings. (The study was moved to Elmira College in 1952 from nearby Quarry Farm, where Samuel Clemens and his wife, Olivia Langdon Clemens, spent summers in the 1870s and 1880s.) The college's Hamilton Hall includes Twain photos and memorabilia. Also, the author's grave, which bears the Clemens and Twain names, is in Elmira's Woodlawn Cemetery.
In California's Calaveras County: This year's Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee, 2465 Gun Club Road, Angels Camp, (209) 736-2561, http://www.frogtown.org, was staged May 13-16, but it happens every year. ("The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" was published in 1865.)
In Virginia City, Nev.: Sam Clemens spent two years writing for the local paper, and you can visit the old Territorial Enterprise Pressroom and Mark Twain Museum, 53 S. C St., Virginia City; (775) 847-0525, http://www.visitvirginiacitynv.com/attractions_marktwain.aspx; open daily. Along with the paper's printing press and other antiques, the museum (38 miles northeast of Lake Tahoe) is said to contain Clemens' desk from 1862-64.
At a bookstore near you: Though parts of Twain's memoirs found their way into print before and since his death in 1910, much of the 2,500-page manuscript remained under wraps because he wanted a 100-year cooling-off period. Now, with that time up, the University of California Press is about to publish volume one of the three-volume "Mark Twain's Autobiography." Copies are expected to reach bookstores in November. For more information, go to http://www.ucpress.edu/blog/?p=1907.
The Web: The Mark Twain Papers & Project at UC Berkeley (bancroft.berkeley.edu/MTP/) is the global center of scholarship on the author, with thousands of letters, dozens of private notebooks and hundreds of manuscripts. The archives are open only to researchers by appointment, and there are no displays or exhibits for casual visitors. For the rest of us, there's the Internet, including such sites as http://www.marktwainproject.org and http://www.twainquotes.com.
—Christopher ReynoldsCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun