On Friday, November 17, 7:30 p.m., Dr. James Golden, Director of Education at the Mark Twain House and Museum, will present an illustrated talk on “Mark Twain in Connecticut” at the Mansfield Historical Society’s November meeting. The program is open to the public and will take place at the Buchanan Auditorium at the Mansfield Public Library (54 Warrenville Road [Route 89], Mansfield Center 06250. General admission is $3.00/adult; free admission for MHS members.
Samuel Clemens (1835-1910), aka Mark Twain, described himself by saying “I am a border-ruffian from the State of Missouri. I am a Connecticut Yankee by adoption. In me, you have Missouri morals, Connecticut culture; this, gentlemen, is the combination which makes the perfect man.” Although his most famous works were set along the Mississippi River of his childhood, Mark Twain composed those novels while living in the elegant literary community of Nook Farm, a neighborhood of Hartford, Connecticut. He lived halfway between Boston and New York, in a Hartford of industry, energy, and immigration while celebrating the pre-Civil War South of his youth.
Dr. Golden’s program will explore the importance of Connecticut and Hartford to Twain’s life and work, including his famous neighbors, such as novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe, travel writer and journalist Charles Dudley Warner, Civil War hero and senator Joseph Hawley, and female suffrage campaigner Isabella Beecher Hooker.
It begins by exploring the environment in which Twain grew up: the slaveholding Mississippi River Valley before the Civil War. It then considers his life as an adult, how his politics changed, and how he emerged as a writer who defined a new phase of American identity and campaigned against the legacy of the injustice he had earlier accepted. His life is a lens into an America of rapid transformation and change.
James Golden is a Hartford, Connecticut native. He studied Divinity and History at the University of Edinburgh before completing his doctorate in Modern History at the University of Oxford in 2011. He has been a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge, and has taught history at Trinity College, the University of Hartford, and Wesleyan University. He has been the Director of Education at the Mark Twain House & Museum since March 2015, where he manages the Museum’s K-12 and college education programs, and its public academic programs.
Following Dr. Golden’s presentation, local spinner and weaver Peggy Church will demonstrate silk reeling. She will utilize cocoons produced by the silkworms raised at the Mansfield Historical Society Museum last summer. This is a rare opportunity to see how silk is hand-processed, just as it was some 200 years ago in Mansfield. Raising silkworms and producing silk thread was a major home industry in Mansfield from the 1760s through the mid-1800s.