The Irony: Someone Stole Mark Twain’s Memorial Plaque.

Whoever stole the plague adorning a monument at Mark Twain’s grave last month had to climb a ladder to do so. At least, that’s what a local historian suspects, as reported by the Elmira Star-Gazette, since the monument itself stood at a height of 12 feet, the same measurement used by riverboat pilots to indicate…

Why the Discovery of Harper Lee’s Manuscript Encourages Me.

Today, The New York Times announced the July publication of a second novel by Harper Lee, age 88. The story goes that Lee wrote Go Set a Watchman but shelved it when an editor suggested she rewrite it from the point of view of a young Scout Finch. That rewrite, of course, became the wildly bestselling To Kill A Mockingbird, a novel…

In Which Mark Twain’s Unpublished Manuscripts Inspire Me.

I’m sitting in a bed-sized window seat overlooking Sycamore Canyon in Big Sur, California, in a friend’s barn. Through an octagon-shaped window, I can see the famous Big Sur coastline, as well as, the occasional deer that roams by. In addition to deer, crows and vultures catch my eye. Sometimes, it’s the neighbor dog—a shih tzu…

September in the Rear View.

September’s come and gone. How did that happen? I blame it on Mark Twain. My head was down all month, re-living his escapades in Hawaii. I poured through his 25 dispatches for the Sacramento Union. I dug into his notebooks and letters. I scoured a gem of a book–Mark Twain and Hawaii–by Walter Francis Frear….

Mark Twain’s Lesson on the Literary Sidekick

The smell of the fireplace at historic Volcano House permeated the air, threatening to give me a headache, while a motor roared to life behind us. “I’m just going to do a fast vacuum,” a housekeeper said. “You guys can stay.” My traveling companion—we’ll call her D—and I sat in wicker rocking chairs facing a…

Mark Twain Would Have Loved the Wilderness Act at First Glance

It’s appropriate that I’m in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Not that I planned it, which makes the whole thing even better. I’m here researching and writing about Mark Twain’s visit to Hawaii in 1866. He made the long horseback journey to Kilauea Volcano during that visit. This…