351 Farmington Avenue,
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1868 – Journalist and traveler Mark Twain sets foot in Hartford, Connecticut, then a publishing center during a business trip as he is writing his travelogue The Innocents Abroad. Living in New York with his wife but charmed by the city and attracted by the prospect of a bigger house, he decides to relocate.
1871 – To be closer to his publisher, the American Publishing Company, he buys a property in north Hartford and rents a place while his new house is being built.
1874 – The Twain family moves in their new home on Farmington Avenue. The building is rather big and hosts a billiard, school and writing rooms, even a conservatory.
The author is delighted by the company of his neighbors, as The Uncle Tom Cabin‘s writer Harriet Beecher Stowe lives just across the street.
A journalist until then, Twain begins to write his first novel during the summer.
The book would be published by subscriptions and titled The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, borrowing the name of Tom Sawyer, a fireman and local hero in San Francisco he befriended.
Twain, whose real name is Samuel Clemens, sets the novel in is boyhood home of Hannibal, Missouri renamed here as St Petersburg. Mischievous and restless, the hero is not unlike Twain himself, who ran from his roots and childhood… only to go back and write about it.
1876 – Despite Twain’s conviction that “Tom shall outsell any previous book of mine”, the reception to the book is disappointing, selling 24,000 coping in the first year, three times less than the travelogue Innocents Abroad.
He resumes his successful travel literature, but still perseveres in children’s fiction, penning The Prince and the Pauper in 1881.
1884 – Having published a Life on the Mississippi, a memoir of his years as a steamboat pilot the preceding year, Twain goes back to fiction but takes matter into his own hands by creating his own publishing company.
The fist book released by Charles L. Webster And Company would be The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Written during 1876 and 1883, the novels depicts the friendship between Tom Sawyer’s friend Huckleberry Finn and Jim, and adult black slave, as they travel down the Mississippi River.
Published two decades after Harriet Beecher Stowe’s The Cabin of Uncle Tom, Huckleberry is met with controversy, due to Jim’s depiction and the coarse language of the book.
Selling more than 60,000 copies in the first six months, gaining free publicity after being banned by several libraries, the book would have a considerable impact on American literature and culture.
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