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Mark Twain

Sam Clemens vs. Mark Twain

Twain began a new journey in his life that would mark his final years. He developed a new life and persona for himself now that Livy was gone. He returned to New York City and began socializing on a new level. He took to wearing the white suits and scarlet socks that we have come to know him by and became the toast of New York society. As he put it, he became “the most conspicuous man on the planet.” His irreverent humor and mischievous nature became associated with Mark Twain, while his quiet and introverted side became Sam Clemens. The man who smoked the cigars, drank the hard liquor, told the coarse and humorous stories, let the occasional swear word loose and acted like an incorrigible child was Mark Twain. Sam Clemens still resided in the privacy of his home, still acting like the lost child without his Livy. Jean, who was now suffering from severe epilepsy and had been put temporarily in a sanitarium because she had struck out at a family servant, went to stay with him. Clara also moved in with her father, but was not often there, as her blossoming music career was taking all of her attention. Twain could no longer rely on what was left of his family to provide him with companionship. He became a bon vivant of New York life and depended upon his witty repartee to make friends and gain attention for himself. A source of enormous pride came for him in 1907 when he was invited to Oxford, in England, for an honorary degree. As he wrote, “Although I wouldn’t cross an ocean again for the price of the ship that carried me, I am glad to do it for an Oxford degree.” He proudly received his award dressed in the university’s scarlet and gray robe. Upon his return to the States, he had a new house built for himself in Redding, Connecticut, so he could be located near his good friend, Albert Bigelow Paine. Located on 200 acres atop a hill, his major request was that the house be equipped with a billiard room decorated in red. He would originally call it “Innocence at Home,” but later decided to call it “Stormfield.” Paine would describe the house as such: “Set on a fair hillside, with such a green slope below, such a view outspread across the valley as made one catch his breath a little when he first turned to look at it. A trout stream flows through one of the meadows. There are apple trees and gray stone walls. The entrance to that is a winding leafy lane.” He would move into the house on June 18, 1908 and this would be his final residence. It was here that Twain would entertain many of his “Angelfish,” young girls who kept him company and entertained his empty heart. These were, reputably, platonic and friendly encounters that Twain had with young girls in their teens who would visit him and provide him with conversation. As he put it, “I had reached the grandpa stage of life; and what I lacked and what I needed, was grandchildren.” His daughters were unable to provide the aging man with his feminine company, so he looked elsewhere for the attention he craved.

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