Fri June 21, 2013
Mark Twain in Memphis
Samuel Clemens, better known to readers worldwide as Mark Twain, had an intimate connection with Memphis.
Before he achieved fame as a writer, Clemens worked on the Mississippi River and made frequent stops in the Bluff City. At one time, he even had all of his mail forwarded to a box in Memphis, attesting to his connection with the city.
It is tragedy, however, which is most often remembered as the link between Clemens and Memphis. Clemens' love for the river led him to convince his younger brother Henry to also seek work on the Mississippi.
On June 13, 1858, the Pennsylvania, the boat Henry worked on, exploded sixty miles south of Memphis. Henry, a clerk on the boat, was injured and taken to Memphis for medical care, along with the other survivors.
Two days after the explosion, Clemens arrived in Memphis and remained at his brother's bedside until his death. This event left a deep emotional scar in Samuel, who felt guilty for convincing Henry to work on the river.
Clemens would write about this in Life on the Mississippi and in his autobiography.