Helen Keller Mark Twain Easton Redding
Mark Twain Tourism Project The goal of this project is to raise awareness and make Connecticut a destination for Mark Twain tourism and research in the future. We feel that merging information about Twain with information about the "Friends of Twain" in the many towns and cities that have a Twain Connection is a great way to promote town pride and Connecticut tourism in the future.
Fairfield County Redding, Connecticut- Twain arrived on June 18th, 1908 and departed on April 21, 1910. Bridgeport Connecticut- P.T. Barnum was mayor of Bridgeport (born in Bethel). Westport, Connecticut- Edgar "Ned" Wakeman was born in Westport, Connecticut. Ridgefield, Connecticut- Cass Gilbert, Edward W. Kemble and Edward M. Knox Stamford, Connecticut- Edward Quintard, M.D. Easton, Connecticut- Helen Keller; Ida M. Tarbell.
Easton & Redding I grew up in Redding, yet it was not until a recent discovery that I realized there was a connection between Redding and Easton outside of each town originally being a part of the Town of Fairfield and the Region #9 school district [Joel Barlow High School]. As I was digging through the Mark Twain Library archives last winter out popped a note about Samuel L. Clemens and his home written by Helen Keller in 1909. "I have been in Eden three days and I saw a King. I knew he was a King the minute I touched him. Though I had never touched a King before." -A Daughter of Eve
Twain & Keller They first met in March 1895 at a luncheon held in Keller’s honor at West 34th Street in NYC. It was the home of Laurence Hutton, an editor and critic who was Twain’s friend and one of Helen’s early benefactors. Henry Rogers was there with Twain and about a dozens others to welcome & wish Helen well during her stay in NYC where she had come to study speech at the School for the Deaf. During the luncheon the two spent time together and Helen seemed to feel more at ease with Twain than with any of the other guests. Hutton later said: “He was peculiarly tender and lovely with her-even for Mr. Clemens- and she kissed him when he said good-bye.”
Keller Describes Twain “Mark Twain has his own way of thinking, saying and doing everything. I can feel the twinkle of his eye in his handshake. Even while he utters his cynical wisdom in an indescribably droll voice, he makes you feel that his heart is a tender Iliad of human sympathy.” How she felt the “twinkle of his eye”When Helen was talking with an intimate friend, her hand went to her friend's face to see, "the twist of the mouth." In this way she was able to get the meaning of those half sentences which people complete unconsciously from the tone of the voice or the twinkle of the eye.
Twain & Keller Letter to Mrs. Henry RogersFor & in behalf of Helen Keller, Mr. Rogers will remember our visit with that astonishing girl at Lawrence Hutton’s house when she was 14 years old. Last July, in Boston, when she was 16 she underwent the Harvard examination for admission to Radcliffe College. She passed without a single condition. She was allowed only the same amount of time that is granted to other applicants, & this was shortened in her case by the fact that the question-papers had to be read to her. Yet she scored an average of 90, as against an average of 78 on the part of the other applicants.
Twain & Keller Letter to Mrs. Henry Rogers, (Continued…)It won’t do for America to allow this marvelous child to retire from her studies because of poverty. If she can go on with them she will make a fame that will endure in history for centuries. Along her special lines she is the most extraordinary product of all the ages. I beg you to lay siege to your husband & get him to interest himself and Messrs. John D. & William Rockefeller & the other Standard Oil chiefs in Helen’s case…[to] pile that Standard Oil Helen Keller College Fund as high as they please; they have my consent.
Twain & Keller The result of this letter was that Mr. Rogers personally took charge of Helen Keller’s fortunes, and out of his own means made it possible for her to continue her education and to achieve for herself the enduring fame which Mark Twain had foreseen. The Reply: It is superb! And I am beyond measure grateful to you both. I knew you would be interested in that wonderful girl, & that Mr. Rogers was already interested in her & touched by her; & I was sure that if nobody else helped her you two would; but you have gone far & away beyond the sum I expected—may your lines fall in pleasant places here, & Hereafter for it! Ever sincerely yours, S. L. CLEMENS.
Twain & Keller Helen Keller visited Twain for three days in January of 1909. She was 28 years old and had recently released her second major work: “The World I Live In” The copy Twain received was inscribed: “Dear Mr. Clemens, come live in my world a little while/Helen Keller.” In response, he had said that she must come to his world first, and to bring Annie (Sullivan) Macy & John Macy with her. “I command you all three, to come and spend a few days with he in Stormfield.”
Twain & Keller Of all the visitors to Stormfield none wrote a more vivid description of the place than Helen Keller. Nothing escaped her senses, from the “tang in the air of cedar and pine” as she made her approach to the smell of “burning fireplace logs, orange tea and toast with strawberry jam” which were served shortly after her arrival. That which she could not see was “spelled” into her hands by her teacher, Annie Sullivan Macy, a.k.a. “The Miracle Worker” as Twain called her.
Twain & Keller It was not generally known that Keller had a great sense of humor, but it was one of the things Twain liked best about her. When he showed her to her room on the first night at Stormfield, he told her that if she needed anything, she would find an ample supply of cigars and bourbon in the bathroom. When he gave her a tour of the billiards room, he offered to teach her the game. She took the bait and innocently replied, “Oh Mr. Clemens, it takes sight to play billiards.” Not the way his friends played, he answered. “The blind couldn’t play worse.”
Keller’s Sense of Humor When she met Dr. Furness, the Shakespearean scholar, he warned her not to let the college professors tell her too many assumed facts about the life of Shakespeare; all we know, he said, is that Shakespeare was baptized, married, and died. "Well," she replied, "he seems to have done all the essential things."
Twain & Keller The highlight of Helen’s visit came on the final evening when Twain read to her his short story: Eve’s Diary. He sat in a big armchair by the fire while Helen followed the story with an ecstatic expression on her face. At the very last line: “Wherever she was, there was Eden.” (Twain’s tribute to his wife Livy) Helen became tearful.In her journal, his secretary wrote: “She quivered with delight, and he was shaken with emotion & could hardly find his voice again. It was a marvel to behold.”
“I have been in Eden three days and I saw a King. I knew he was a King the minute I touched him though I had never touched a King before.” ~ A Daughter of Eve. Helen Keller Jan. 11
Twain & Keller Twain understood her meaning so completely that he wrote beside it: “The point of what Helen says above, lies in this: that I read the ‘Diary of Eve’ all through, to her last night; in it Eve frequently mentions things she saw for the first time but instantly knew what they were & named them- though she had never seen them before.”In Keller’s ‘The Story of My Life’, she recalls the joy of learning the names of things after she acquired the gift of language: “…the more I handled things and learned their names and uses, the more joyous & confident grew my sense of kinship with the rest of the World.”
Nothing to hear nor see Twain was amazed that Helen had been able to transform everything around her into a reality only she could imagine. “A well put together unreality is pretty hard to beat,” was his response to a friend who remarked that Helen’s “concept of things…must lack reality.” In Huckleberry Finn- written long before he met Helen – Twain wrote: “it’s lovely to live on a raft…nothing to hear nor nothing to see.”
Twain & Keller Two of a Kind
Two of a Kind Mark Twain was a pre-mature baby with little hope of surviving, let alone succeeding. Helen Keller lost her vision and hearing at 19 months and had little hope for success. Both “survived” and became successful Authors, Public Speakers and Celebrities.
Two of a Kind Helen came to accept religious and political beliefs quite different from those of her family and friends. In 1906, Twain pondered what future audiences would say about his unpublished comments on religious bigotry and social hypocrisy… “The edition of 2006 will make a stir when it comes out.”
Two of a Kind "As she had her entire life, the luminous Helen inspired intrigues and power struggles, as her acquaintances and advisers fought with one another to gain possession of her." The same can be said for Twain who endured a painful “power struggle” between his daughters and business associates in the final year of his life.
Two of a Kind During her lifetime, Helen Keller lived in many different places—Tuscumbia, Alabama; Cambridge and Wrentham, Massachusetts; Forest Hills, New York, but perhaps her favorite residence was her last, the house in Easton, Connecticut she called "Arcan Ridge." The same can be said about Samuel L. Clemens. He too lived in many places, and yet fell in love with the beauty of his final residence… Redding, Connecticut.
Two of a Kind Helen died in her sleep on June 1, 1968 at the age of 87. The cause of her death was heart disease. In the twilight of April 21, 1910, at the age of 74, Mark Twain sunk into unconsciousness from which he glided almostimperceptibly into death. The cause of his death was heart disease.
Two of a Kind Since their deaths, their names have lived on… “She will live on, one of the few, the immortal names not born to die. Her spirit will endure as long as man can read and stories can be told of the woman who showed the world there are no boundaries to courage and faith.” Eulogy by Senator J. Lister Hill of Alabama
The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated
Easton’s Other Connection Ida Tarbell. Tarbell’s history of Standard Oil appeared in 1904 with an account of Twain’s friend, Henry Rogers, that cast him in a better light than Rockefeller. Twain pretended to be greatly disappointed. “Henry H, the woman has been bought!” The truth was that Twain had made arrangements for Tarbell to meet Rogers, who laid on the charm.
Tarbell Visits Stormfield Ida Tarbell and Jeannette Gilder visited Twain at Stormfield to welcome him to the “neighborhood”. In her journal, Twain’s secretary wrote: “It was a pleasant company, and the King approves of those two fine old girls. They love the house with its mellow colorings, its ‘mouthwatering’ colorings as Jeannette Gilder calls it.”
This presentation is over for now, I thank you all for watching!! Someone please have a whiskey & a smoke for me.