Mark Twain Captured on Film by Thomas Edison in 1909. It’s the Only Known Footage of the Author.

Here’s a lit­tle nugget for you. The great inven­tor Thomas Edi­son vis­it­ed the home of Mark Twain in 1909, and cap­tured footage of “the father of Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture” (says Faulkn­er) walk­ing around his estate and play­ing cards with his daugh­ters, Clara and Jean. The film is silent and dete­ri­o­rat­ed. But it’s appar­ent­ly the only known footage of the author who gave us Huck­le­ber­ry Finn and Tom Sawyer. Twain would die the next year.

Find works by Twain in our col­lec­tion of Free Audio Books and Free eBooks.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mark Twain Shirt­less in 1883 Pho­to

Thomas Edi­son Recites “Mary Had a Lit­tle Lamb” in Ear­ly Voice Record­ing

Thomas Edison’s Box­ing Cats (1894), or Where the LOL­Cats All Began

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Comments (14)
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  • Mac says:

    The young girls pic­tured with M.T. would not be his daughters.All three of his daugh­ters died before their father. Twain,however,did befriend­ed many chil­dren in his lat­er years.

  • DanaSuz says:

    Two of the daugh­ters were alive at this time accord­ing to the Mark Twain House Muse­um. This is remark­able footage! THANK YOU!
    “In 1903, after liv­ing in New York City for three years, Livy became ill and Sam and his wife returned to Italy where she died a year lat­er. After her death, Sam lived in New York until 1908 when he moved into his last house, “Storm­field”, in Red­ding, Con­necti­cut. In 1909, his mid­dle daugh­ter Clara was mar­ried. In the same year Jean, the youngest daugh­ter, died from an epilep­tic seizure. Four months lat­er on April 21, 1910, Sam Clemens died at the age of 74.”

  • Accord­ing to the wiki, the “only known footage” of Twain was in the two-reel film “The Prince and the Pau­per”, in 1905; so I guess both claims are wrong, and some­one should amend the wiki and this arti­cle to that effect.

    See here:

    The source of the arti­cle leads to a Google Books link that I can’t read, how­ev­er.

  • swa says:

    Thank you for sourc­ing and ref­er­enc­ing this rare footage.
    I love Huck­le­ber­ry Finn and The adven­tures of Tom Sawyer. I re-read them since child­hood at 27 years of age again and enjoyed it tremen­dous­ly.
    I’m sure I’ll read it once again for my chil­dren and their chil­dren and enjoy it again, when that time arrives.

    Thank you


  • sans says:

    The first com­ment by ‘Mac’ shows how infor­ma­tion can be mis­used. To throw out a com­ment that is so obvi­ous­ly wrong about all of Twain’s daugh­ters dying before their father is down­right mis­lead­ing and the poster should check his facts before post­ing such a cav­a­lier remark. If he were talk­ing about the Bronte sis­ters — Char­lotte, Emi­ly and Ann — he would be right since all three sis­ters died before their father. sheesh.

  • Greg says:

    This is great, but what I want more than any­thing is even a tiny scrap of Mark Twain audio…his voice…there’s got­ta be a phono­graph some­where. Every-time I see Twain por­trayed I think his accent and por­tray­al is way your twit­ter posts.

  • Sir Lucius of Astor says:

    Thanks for the Nugget.

  • Knight Kinsley says:

    I nev­er liked niggets.

  • They were prob­a­bly all three there for Clara’s wed­ding dur­ing the spring or sum­mer of 1909. Accord­ing to DansSuz ref: from Mark­T­wain­Mu­se­um web­site, all 3 were alive at the time of film. Jean would die Christ­mas Eve of that year, then Sam 4 months lat­er in the new year.
    I loved it! Thank you

  • This is very cool! Thank you!

  • Inter­est­ing con­nec­tions among Edi­son, Twain, and Tes­la, who was a friend of Twain and an erst­while employ­ee of Edi­son.

  • Laxsumanan says:

    I love your show, Brent. When my Dad retired in 1976, my pat­nres bought a 40 acre farm in South­ern Arkansas near my Dad’s birth­place. I lived and worked in Hous­ton, Tx. so the trips to vis­it them were a long eight hour dri­ve for me. They start­ed out with a large gar­den and 14 cows, but sad­ly my Dad had heart surgery and a stroke the sec­ond year of his retire­ment. We sold the cows and let the gar­den grow over because he could no longer take care of the place. My Dad sat on the porch or drove down to the pond to feed his cat­fish. He still loved the farm but it was­n’t the same. About 10 years after my pat­nres retired, I was sick of the city and going through a divorce. I called my Dad and decid­ed to move back to the farm. I were going to raise GOATS, get a Lla­ma, start grow­ing veg­eta­bles again, buy a horse and get the farm back in shape. But I got a great job offer in Hous­ton, met a won­der­ful man and decid­ed to stay in Hous­ton. My pat­nres were dis­s­ap­point­ed but they under­stood that I could­n’t pass up a great job. I still vis­it­ed but I missed hav­ing ani­mals on the farm. My Dad became grave­ly ill in 1999 and I sold the farm. He passed away a year lat­er. Watch­ing you guys at Beek­man Farm reminds me of what might have been if I had moved back to the farm. The goats and Pol­ka Spot are awe­some. My fam­i­ly farm was not near­ly as beau­ti­ful as Beek­man Farm but I still regret sell­ing it. Now that I am retired, I trav­el a lot. I am going to put Sharon Springs and Beek­man Farm on my must vis­it list next time I am in New York. Love you guys, P.K.

  • Shelley says:

    That flick­er­ing dark­ness that walks by him through­out the film looks like death.

  • Kathy Stranahan says:

    This is so cool! The Bard of the Mis­sis­sip­pi alive again on film.

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