Letter from American History – April 2010

Have Pen, Will Travel

Mark Twain got his start in life as a printer’s devil. He mixed tubs of ink and fetched type for a printer in Hannibal, Mo., in 1848, at age 12, and soon began spinning yarns for a newspaper owned by his brother Orion. During the next six decades Twain traveled far and wide by steamship, train and stage coach and chronicled what he saw in some 4,000 articles, 30 books and 50,000 letters. As Peter Carlson reveals in our cover story, “Mark Twain’s Guide to Our Most Turbulent Century,” this prodigious body of work is a treasure trove for history lovers because it captures the seemingly boundless spirit of America coming of age. “You will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do,” Twain once wrote. “So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

 

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