Hartford House Hosts Conversation about Mark Twain’s Granddaughter

One of the sad stories that accompanies the tale of Mark Twain comes in the aftermath of his life– the tale of the granddaughter he never knew, Nina Gabrilowitsch, who died in 1965 after battling severe addiction problems for years. Nina was the daughter of Clara Clemens, the only child to survive her father.

Nina Gabrilowitsch, from the Mark Twain House and Museum

Independent scholar Alan Rankin, learned of Gabrilowitsch in a roundabout way: In 1992, a friend inherited the 1924 diary of a 13-year-old girl, and though Rankin was charmed and fascinated by the life portrayed in it, he didn’t make the connection to the Clemens family until much later. Rankin has written an extensive essay about his journey learning about Nina Gabrilowitsch for the Center for Mark Twain Studies.

On Thursday, June 25, at 5:30 p.m., Rankin will be interviewed by Steve Courtney, Mark Twain House & Museum historian, as part of the online “Trouble at Home” series. The series maintains the insight, flavor and humor of “The Trouble Begins at 5:30,” the museum’s decade-long lecture series.

Rankin is working on a book focusing on Gabrilowitsch’s life in the 1920s, which he calls an “overlooked and generally happy period in the lives of the surviving Clemens family.” He sees Gabrilowitsch as worthy of study in her own right: “Her charming, literate teen diaries reveal the lasting impact of Samuel Clemens on the daily lives of those who survived him.”

Alan Rankin

A lifelong writer, Rankin has worked at various times as a journalist, reviewer, online content creator, and copy editor. He currently writes a biographical column for Renaissance magazine. He presented his work on Gabrilowitsch at the 2019 Clemens Conference in Hannibal, Missouri, and he is a 2020 Quarry Farm Fellow at the Center for Mark Twain Studies in Elmira, New York.

This program is free to attend, though while registering for the event, the Mark Twain House and Museum hopes registrants will consider contributing what they would call a fair ticket price.  Register here!

Hartford House Host Conversation with Historical Impersonator of Susy Clemens, Next Conversation Scheduled

Grace DiModugno as Susy Clemens

The story of Olivia Susan Clemens is an important one in Samuel Clemens’s — Mark Twain’s — life. “Susy,” the eldest of his and Livy Clemens’s daughters, early on showed talent for writing, drama, and music. “Like other children she was blithe and happy, full of play,” her father wrote, “unlike other the other average of children she was at times much given to retiring within herself and trying to search out the hidden meanings of deep things that make the puzzle and pathos of human existence.” Her death in her 20s was a deeply tragic moment for the family.

The Living History program at The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut features several historical interpreters who play the role of Susy in her teens — an earlier and happier time, when the family lived in the Hartford house. Among these is historian and actress Grace DiModugno.

Like all the house’s interpreters, DiModugno has been rigorously trained in Twainian matters, along with the skills particular to her role as Susy. On Thursday, May 28th, at 5:30 p.m. she was the second interviewee in “Trouble at Home,” the online series that, for the moment, is taking on the role of the museum’s beloved 10-year-old series “The Trouble Begins at 5:30.” (The series title plays off Twain’s own lecture posters, which advertised “The Trouble Begins at Eight.”)

DiModugno graduated from the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut, in 2018. Her degree is in both English and History. She is currently employed at both The Mark Twain House & Museum and the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Co. Of her Living History role, she says, “I find it a fantastic experience to combine both my love of history and my love of acting.” She was interviewed by Mark Twain House historian and founder of the “Trouble Begins” series Steve Courtney.

The next event, on Thursday, June 11, at 5;30 p.m. EDT, takes on the tale of Twain’s interest in spiritualism, as Steve Courntey chats with two people who have lectured together extensively on that subject and others: Mallory Howard, our Assistant Curator, who organized an important exhibition at the Hartford House on the subject a few  years back; and Jason Scappaticci, a local educator and historian.

Hartford House Hosts Conversation with Kerry Driscoll, Mark Twain Scholar; New Conversation Scheduled for Thursday

On Thursday, May 14, 2020, the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford CT., hosted its first virtual “Trouble Begins at 5:30,” entitled “The Trouble at Home.” The event featured a conversation between Steve Courtney, Curatorial Special Projects Coordinator at the Hartford Mark Twain House, and Dr. Kerry Driscoll, Associate Editor at the Mark Twain Papers and Project at the University of California, Berkeley, and Professor Emeritus at the University of St. Joseph, Hartford, CT.

Dr. Kerry Driscoll

The conversation included discussions about the nature of the Mark Twain Papers and Project, Dr. Driscoll’s own work, and a range of other Twainian subjects.

The recorded conversation can be found HERE. Please note that to view the talk, each person must register with “Crowdcast,” an interactive, live conversation, web-based platform.

The next event, on Thursday, May 28, at 5;30 p.m. EST, will focus on Susy Clemens whose father hailed her “vivacity, enthusiasm, precocious wisdom, wit, elegance, penetration, nobility of character.” The interview guest will be Grace DiModugno of the Mark Twain House and Museum’s Living History historical interpreter staff. She takes visitors around the Hartford house in costume, recreating Susy’s life there for them. Her experience doing that, along with a natural talent for absorbing and interpreting information, is sure to provide a terrific experience for those visitors. She will also relay what she has learned about Susy, and some tales of visitors and their curious ways.

The link to register for Thursday’s event can be found here. As mentioned before, to view the talk, each person must register with “Crowdcast.”

Help Support The Mark Twain House & Museum and Eat Great Food!

The Staff of CMTS wishes the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut the biggest success with their annual fundraiser.  We encourage you all to participate.  It looks like a fun, fantastic, food-filled event!

Food is the focus of Twain’s Feast, the 2018 Mark Twain House & Museum Gala fundraiser, to be held Saturday, November 3 at 6 pm at the Goodwin Hotel in downtown Hartford. The annual event benefitting The Mark Twain House & Museum will highlight delectable preparations from nationally recognized chef Tyler Anderson, based on some of the foods listed in the book Twain’s Feast by Andrew Beahrs.

Audible will present a preview of its new eight-part series Twain’s Feast, based on Beahrs’ book.  Twain’s Feast is a rollicking, information-packed journey that explores Mark Twain’s life and a changing America through eight of his favorite foods. Actor, author and Twain enthusiast Nick Offerman presents Twain’s life and, with the help of some friends and Chef Anderson, reveals a surprising culinary and ecological history. This Audible Original is a fun look into the heart of a changing America, with the sharp eye and unmistakable wit of Mark Twain as a guide.

In this article from The Huffington Post, the author describes some of the dishes detailed in the publication.

The evening begins with cocktails at 6 p.m.  Dinner will be served family style and Chef Anderson will describe the dishes and how he was inspired by Twain’s Feast.

Silent auction items up for bid at the gala include a a five-day stay in a private home on the French Riviera with Norwegian Air tickets included; a dinner for six in the Hartford brownstone home of Luke and Sara Bronin, catered by Chef Anderson; and a seven-day steamboat cruise down the Mississippi River on the American Queen.

“Twain’s Feast”, the gala’s theme, is directly related to the museum’s mission of preserving and promoting Mark Twain’s legacy.

Read more about Mark Twain’s love of food in this Frank Rizzo story in Hartford magazine.

You can Buy gala tickets here.