where the writers are
Mark Twain Said

My weekend in Hannibal, Missouri began with a walking tour of the most important Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain landmarks. The first stop was a tour of the jail SC/MT used for the fictional jail in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer where Muff Potter was held prisoner.

Mark Twain said, “Get your facts first and then you can distort them as much as you want.” We didn’t actually tour the jail. It isn’t there anymore. We toured about five yards around the sign; the sign that told us we were standing on the site of the former jail.

Our second stop was the original Huck Finn House. We toured the house, not the site where it once stood. The real boy who lived in this house was Tom Blankenship. Tom was SC/MT’s inspiration for Huck Finn. The TB/HF house is located behind the house where SC/MT grew up.

Mark Twain said, “Nothing so needs reformed as other people’s habits.”  Near the end of the TB/HF house tour, the docent told us the original home was demolished in 1911.

The tour cost $7.50 and I was getting my money’s worth— so far we’d toured a sign and a facsimile of a fictional character’s home.  

We walked to the Clemen’s family home; located a hundred yards from the Mississippi. The second story offered a stunning view of the river. I couldn’t walk on the hardwood floors where SC/MT walked or touch the corner of his desk. Plexiglass walls barred me from fully entering the rooms of the Clemen’s home, confirming this truly was Mark Twain’s original boyhood home.

We walked past the fence surrounding the Clemen’s garden on the way to the Becky Thatcher House. The fence was the inspiration for Tom’s whitewashing punishment.

Laura Hawkins was SC’s childhood schoolmate and sweetheart. She lived in the Becky Thatcher House before she knew she’d become a famous character in a book. Presently the LH/BT house is in the process of waiting for funds to be restored—it's not plexiglass ready. I stood in the house and gawked at the same boards and beams LH/BT and SC/MT saw when they ran through the rooms.  

By the end of the tour, one thing was clear to me—one way or the other, every historical landmark in Hannibal found its way into one of MT’s books.

Mark Twain said, “All generalizations are false, including this one.”  

2 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

Hannibal, MO

Do they still have a writers conference there?  I remember that they used to, and I thought it would be great fun to go there for that purpose.  I missed all the paid tours the one time we visited.  Thanks for taking me along with you.

Comment Bubble Tip

Writer's Conference

Hi, Sue

Thank you for your comments. Hannibal hosted the 14th annual Heartland Writer's Conference in May. I think that's the big one. Wouldn't it be a kick to go?

The town is lovely- a historic relic dreaming of the past by the mighty Mississippi. I actually had a great time and the museum is worth seeing if nothing else. The shops and downtown area are very quaint. We ate dinner Friday night at an old bordello.