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.

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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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