A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Albert Biglow Paine, cats, Connecticut, Hartford, Huckleberry Finn, kitten, Mark Twain, Mark Twain House, Nook Farm, Puddn'head Wilson, Roughing It, Samuel Clemens, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Innocents Abroad, Tom Sawyer, writer's life, Writing
Twain’s softer side
The name Mark Twain is synonymous with Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn—rough and tumble boys full of adventure, daring pranksters who were afraid of nothing.
In many ways, the characters an author creates are their reflection. But like Hemingway, Mark Twain had a softer side he hid from the world.
Like so many creative people, Mark Twain was sensitive and more than a little reclusive. People who knew him said he was most comfortable around animals, with a particular love of cats. According the Mark Twain’s daughter, Suzy…
The difference between papa and mama is that mama loves morals and papa loves cats.
Twain loved cats so much he had up to 19 living in his house at one time, according to one source. And that was just at his Connecticut home.
Mark Twain biographer, Albert Biglow Paine, revealed that Mark Twain even traveled with cats. Once on his travels, he missed his cats so much he rented a few local kittens for the summer. “He didn’t wish to own them, for then he would have to leave them behind uncared for,” Paine explained, “so he preferred to rent them and pay sufficiently to ensure their subsequent care.”
The kitten that played pool
It’s odd to think that an author as accomplished as Mark Twain suffered from nervousness about his writing. But he did. His cats helped calm him, as did playing billiards. Amazingly enough, there was one special kitten who did double duty by playing pool with Twain. For real. I am not making this up.
When Twain took a break from his writing to blow off nervous energy, he’d pick up the kitten and tuck him into one of the pockets of the billiard table and the game began. The kitten swiped at the balls as they darted by, amusing Twain to no end. Rejuvenated by the kitten’s antics, Twain could then return to his writing.
Twain’s love of animals lives on
Generations of cats have called Nook Farm home—the famous author’s house in Hartford, Connecticut. Dozens of cats still live on the grounds of The Mark Twain House & Museum today, much as they did during the famous author’s lifetime.
When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction. ~ Mark Twain
Many of the staff members at The Mark Twain House are proud owners of Nook Farm cats, continuing Twain’s legacy.
Mark Twain’s love of cats lives on in his writing, as well. Cats stalk, slink, pad, and play their way through many of his best-known books, including The Innocents Aboard, Roughing It, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and Puddn’head Wilson. If that’s not reason enough to read Twain, I don’t know what is. But I’m a hopeless animal lover too. What can i say?
Matthew Wright said:
Twain was an exceptionally talented writer and social satirist (not least via his own pseudonym) – and I’m not surprised he liked cats. I gather he made most of his income from the speech circuit rather than out of writing directly – something still true today (sigh).
Elizabeth Fais said:
Mark Twain won me over at an early age with The Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. But I didn’t realize how funny he was until a college professor had us read a James Fenimore Cooper novel (I forget which one now), followed by Twain’s scathing satire. I was crying. I laughed that hard. He was forever my hero after that. He was a national treasure.