Home  »  Volume XVII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART II  »  § 6. The Quaker City Excursion

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

VIII. Mark Twain

§ 6. The Quaker City Excursion

By repeating his Sandwich Islands lecture widely in California and Nevada he provided himself with means to travel, and revisited his home, returning by way of Panama and New York. In May, 1867, he published his first book, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other Sketches, and lectured in Cooper Institute. Then on 8 June he sailed on the Quaker City for a five months’ excursion through the Mediterranean to the Holy Land, first reported in letters to The Alta-California and the New York Tribune, and immortalized by his book Innocents Abroad. On 2 February, 1870, he married his most sympathetic reader and severest censor, Olivia Langdon of Elmira, New York, a sister of one of the Quaker City pilgrims who had shown him her photograph in the Bay of Smyrna. After a brief unprofitable attempt to edit a newspaper in Buffalo, he moved in 1871 to Hartford, Connecticut, and in 1874 built there the home in which he lived for the next seventeen years.

He formed a close association with his neighbour Charles Dudley Warner; was taken under the editorial wing of William Dean Howells and into his intimate friendship; contributed to The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s Magazine, and The North American Review; and ultimately made some progress with such festive New Englanders as O. W. Holmes, F. J. Child, and T. B. Aldrich; but his head was white before he became as much of a lion in Boston and New York as he had been in Carson City and San Francisco. At various times he made extended sojourns in England, Italy, France, Germany, and Austria, particularly in his later years in seasons of pecuniary retrenchment. He reaped a fortune by contracting for the publication of Grant’s Memoirs and his royalties were steadily large; but bad ventures in his publishing business, his somewhat lavish style of living, and his unperfected type-setting machine, in which he sank $200,000, pushed him finally into bankruptcy. He had extended his reputation in 1873 by lecturing for two months in London; he made a big reading tour with G. W. Cable in 1884–5; and in 1895, at the age of sixty, disdaining the advantages of bankruptcy, he set out on a lecturing tour of the world which took on something of the aspect of a royal progress and ended in the triumphant discharge of all his obligations. Then he collected another fortune and built himself his mansion Stormfield in Redding, Connecticut.