as a woman, as a mother I was oppressed and broken-hearted, with all the sorrows and injustice I saw, because as a Christian I felt the dishonor to Christianity – because as a lover to my country I trembled at the coming day of wrath.” ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe
Today we visited the homes of Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811 – 1896) and Mark Twain (1835 -1910) in Hartford, CT. Both homes were right across from each other in a place once known as Nook Creek. Interestingly, although the writers came from very different backgrounds, their work shared a similar world view.
Although most famous for her landmark novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which brought the horrors of slavery to the masses, Harriet actually penned 30 books over the course of 30 years. In addition to being an ardent abolitionist, she was also an animal rights’ activist and one of her novels, A Dog’s Mission, featured a hero named Charley, the same name of Jen’s dog!
Mark Twain (the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens) was known as Sam to his friends. He lived in a grander home that was actually decorated by Louis Comfort Tiffany. He spent some of the happiest times of his life in this house. In fact, after the death of his daughter Susy in Europe, he and his wife Olivia could not bring themselves to return to the same house because of their grief.
Much is known about the life of Mark Twain through his witticisms, novels, and short stories, but we learned quite a few new tidbits that surprised us. He, like Harriet, adored animals and his house was full of cats and dogs. Even these creatures weren’t immune to his humor, however. He named his cats things like “Sin” and “Pestilence.” He had three collies that went by the names “I Know,” “You Know,” and “Don’t Know.” Because there are three of us on this trip, we each chose one of these as our sobriquet. Jen immediately chose “Don’t Know” as her name, letting me and Ann quibble over “I Know” and “You Know.”
We ended the day on a serendipitous note, finding out that Thornton Wilder (author of the plays “Our Town” and “Skin of Our Teeth” and the novel “The Bridge of San Luis Rey”) actually built a house in Hamden, CT, and is buried with his family in Mt. Carmel Cemetery in the same town.