The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

picture courtesy of "Mark Twain in His Times"

Hannibal, MO
(source of inspiration)
"[My mother] never used large words but she had a natural gift for making small ones do effective work...She has come handy to me several times in my books, where she figures as Tom Sawyer's Aunt Polly. I fitted her out with a dialect and tried to think up other improvements for her but did not find any." Autobiography, 7

"We had a little slave boy whom we had hired from someone, there in Hannibal...He was a cheery spirit, innocent and gentle, and the noisiest creature that ever was, perhaps...I used Sandy [the 'little slave boy'] once, also; it was in Tom Sawyer. I tried to get him to whitewash the fence but it did not work."
Autobiography, 7-8

"'Injun Joe', the half-breed, got lost in it [the cave] once and would have starved to death if the bats had run short...He told me all his story. In that book called Tom Sawyer I starved him entirely to death but that was in the interest of art; it never happened." Autobiography, 9

"My mother had a good deal of trouble with me but I think she enjoyed it. She had none at all with my brother Henry, who was two years younger than I, and I think that the unbroken monotony of his goodness and truthfulness and obedience would have been a burden to her but for the relief I furnished in the other direction...I never knew Henry to do a vicious thing toward me or anyone else--but he frequently did rightous ones that cost me as heavily. It was his duty to report me, when I needed reporting and neglected to do it myself, and he was very faithful in discharging that duty. He is Sid in Tom Sawyer. But Sid was not Henry. Henry was a very much finer and better boy than ever Sid was."
Autobiography, 35

"It was Henry who called my mother's attention to the fact that the thread with which she had sewed my collar together to keep me from going in swimming had changed color."
Autobiography, 36

"It was not right to give the cat the 'Pain-Killer'; I realize it now. I would not repeat it in these days. But in those Tom Sawyer days it was a great and sincere satisfaction to me to see Peter [his cat] perform under its influence."
Autobiography, 37

"In Hannibal when I was about fifteen I was for a short time a Cadet of Temperance." Autobiography, 46

"I remember Dawson's schoolhouse perfectly. If I wanted to describe it I could save myself the trouble by conveying the description of it to these pages from Tom Sawyer." Autobiography, 75

"In that school they had slender oblong pasteboard blue tickets, each with a verse from the Testament printed on it, and you could get a blue ticket by reciting two verses. By reciting five verses you could get three blue tickets, and you could trade these at the bookstore and borrow a book for a week." Autobiography, 81

"That comely child, that charming child, was Laura M. Wright, and I could see her with perfect distinctness in the unfaded bloom of her youth, with her plaited tails dangling from her young head and her white summer frock puffing about in the wind of that ancient Mississippi time...When I knew that child her father was an honored Judge of a high court in the middle of Missouri and was a rich man, as riches were estimated in that day and region." Autobiography, 87-88

"[Twain quoting from his daughter Susy's biography of him] 'Clara and I are sure that papa played the trick on Grandma, about the whipping, that is related in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: 'Hand me that switch.' The switch hovered in the air, the peril was desperate--'My look behind you Aunt!' The old lady whirled around and snatched her skirts out of danger. The lad fled on the instant, scrambling up the high board fence and disappeared over it.' Susy and Clara were quite right about that." Autobiography, 234

"Heavens what eternities have swung their hoary cycles about us since those days were new...since I jumped overboard from the ferry boat in the middle of the river that stormy day to get my hat, & swam two or three miles after it (& got it) while all the town collected on the wharf & for an hour or so looked out across the angry waste of 'whitecaps' toward where people said Sam. Clemons was last seen before he went down." letter to William Bowen, 2.6.1870, Buffalo, NY, as quoted in Mark Twain's Letters, Vol. 4

Hartford, CT
(site of actual writing)
"I have finished the story & didn't take the chap beyond boyhood. I believe it would be fatal to do it in any shape but autobiographically...I perhaps made a mistake in not writing it in the first person. If I went on, now, & took him into manhood, he would just be like all the one-horse men in literature & the reader would conceive a hearty contempt for him. It is not a boy's book, after all. It will only be read by adults. It is only written for adults...By & by I shall take a boy of twelve & run him on through life (in the first person) but not Tom Sawyer--he would not be a good character for it." letter to William Dean Howells, 7.5.1875, Hartford, CT, as quoted in Mark Twain's Letters, Vol. 6

"I simply hunted out the pencil marks & made the emendations which they suggested. I reduced the boy-battle to a curt paragraph; I finally concluded to cut the Sunday-school speech down to the first two sentences, leaving no suggestion of satire, since the book is to be for the boys & girls. I tamed the various obscenities until I judged that they no longer carried offense."
letter to William Dean Howells, 1.18.1876, Hartford, CT, as quoted in Mark Twain's Letters, 1876-1880
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