Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, 8/15/2016

Our decision to stay in Hannibal, MO, for a week was prompted by our interest in the world-renowned writer, Mark Twain. A couple of blocks from the Mississippi River is the complex of buildings and museums that comprises the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum. There are a total of five historic buildings, two museums, and three museum shops that have lots of interesting Mark Twain-themed items. 

To begin your visit, start at the Mark Twain Interpretive Center where tickets are sold. There is a museum here that provides a timeline of Samuel Clemens life and interesting information about events that shaped his life and his career as a writer. 

The museum at the Interpretive Center begins with information about his mother.

The population of Hannibal was about 1,000 in 1839 when the Clemens family moved to the town. Samuel started school here when he was just 4. His dad died in 1847 at which time Samuel left school and began work as a printer's apprentice at the Hannibal Courier. In 1853, Clemens left Hannibal to seek his fortune and did not begin writing The Adventures of Tom Sawyer until twenty years later under the pen name of Mark Twain.

The characters in his Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn books were based upon Mark Twain's own childhood and individuals in the town of Hannibal. The Tom Sawyer character is based on Samuel Clemens and Huck Finn was his best friend, Tom Blankenship. A reproduction of the house where the Blankenship family lived is next. Tom's dad was the town drunk and Tom had very little supervision during his childhood.

Following the sidewalk path through lovely gardens we next visited Mark Twain's boyhood home. The Clemens family lived here from 1844 to 1853.

The interior rooms can be seen behind glass partitions and feature many personal artifacts of Mark Twain. 

This is his sister Pamela's room. She appears as Tom Sawyer's cousinMary, in his books.

And, of course, here is the white fence that was whitewashed in the famous scene in Tom Sawyer!

Across the street is the Hawkins family home. Laura Hawkins was the model for Becky Thatcher in Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn books. (The building was closed for renovation during our visit.)

Samuel Clemens' dad was a Justice of the Peace and his office was across the street from their family home

In 1846, the Clemens family, due to financial problems, moved from their house to the upstairs apartment with DrGrant, his wife, and mother-in-law. His dad died here in 1947 after contracting pneumonia. The first floor was a drug store

Walking a couple of blocks down Main Street, the Mark Twain Museum is located on the left. The first floor showcases Mark Twain's writing desk and features exhibits about Mark Twain's books. There are various displays where excerpts from movies based on Twain's books can be viewed.

We had fun checking out this one.

The second floor features artifacts related to Samuel Clemens' career as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River before the outbreak of the Civil War.

Norman Rockwell was chosen to create paintings that were included in Twain's books, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Fifteen original oil paintings by Rockwell are displayed on the third floor of the museum. 

There are two busts of Mark Twain, many photographsposters from movies made of his books and other family heirlooms displayed here. Twain had this exquisite jewelry box carved for his wife in Italy.

We really enjoyed learning more about the life and times of Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain. All of the exhibits are so well done and it was a lot of fun for both adults and kids! I am re-reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer on my kindle while we are here and it is so interesting to be able to visit the places that served as the inspiration for his books. If you see nothing else in Hannibal, you should go here!

Admission is $9/seniors and $11/adults. We had a coupon that we picked up at the Visitor Center for 50% off the second ticket. For information about hours of operation and other details about the museum, check out their website.

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