Happy Monday Morning!

I’ve been working on a short story for a site that provides you with the first line. You can’t change it in any way if you plan to submit it, but the story can be about anything. Based on the first line, I wanted to incorporate classic authors into the story, so I did some research. The three authors I used in the story are Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott, and Charles Dickens. I came across some interesting information about them and I thought I’d share with you. Maybe you already knew about these facts…and maybe you didn’t.

Mark Twain

Samuel Langhorne Clemens came up with the pseudonym Mark Twain, which he adopted from while an apprentice on a riverboat. He studied the Mississippi River and the riverboat operations. Twain means “two” and Mark Twain means “two fathoms”. He wrote all his best-known work under this pseudonym, but he also had a few more pen names, Josh and Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass.

When he was young, he found a dead body in his father’s office. The dead man was a California emigrant stabbed during a quarrel and placed there until the inquiry.

Mark Twain learned of slavery being approved by God, but he witnessed many acts of cruelty, which lived on in his writing, such as a 14-year old voice in Huckleberry Finn. He also experienced other acts of violence; he watched a merchant get shot in the streets, becoming the Boggs shooting in Huckleberry Finn; watched a friend drown; and then found a mutilated body of a slave. It turned out his friend Tom Blankenship’s, the model for Huck, brother secretly brought food to the slave until the slave was caught. This situation was the reason for Huck’s decision to help Jim.

Twain also wrote an essay titled The Awful German Language, which is very amusing and provides examples for the pitfalls of learning German and its grammar.

He was a cigar aficionado. Twain started smoking at the age of nine. It’s been reported that he said, “If smoking is not allowed in heaven, I shall not go.”  He struggled to give it up when he was writing, known to have smoked fifteen cigars during his writing sessions.

Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott is the author of Little Women. Although not particular happy with Little Women, based off her childhood recollections of family life at Orchard House, she published it to help support the family. Family was very important to her. Young Jo March was based on Louisa.

Alcott also wrote under the pseudonyms Flora Fairfield and A.M. Bernard, because some of her stories were thrillers, garish, and violent.

Alcott informally studied under family friends, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Theodore Parker.

She worked under many professions, one of them being a volunteer nurse during the Civil War. Alcott didn’t remain there long after contracting typhoid from the unsanitary conditions. Due to being treated with mercury, she continued to have pain for the rest of her life. Alcott’s first bout of fame came with her book, Hospital Sketches—her account of Civil War experiences.

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens’s first collection of essays were printed as Sketches under the pseudonym, Boz.

His father went to prison when Dickens was twelve years old. To help the family financially, he was forced to leave school and work at a boot-blacking factory. Dickens had said the time made him realize it was the end of his young innocence.

In his younger years, he considered being an actor. He setup an audition at the Lyceum Theater, but never made the audition due to illness.

He went on vacation to America where he was treated like royalty, but offended the nation by protesting about their lack of copyright protection and criticizing American culture and materialism. Dickens returned for an American tour later on to set things right.

Dickens was an avid walker. He’d take long walks through London or the countryside, which were part of his creative process. Per his biography of Dickens, Peter Ackroyd stated he walked twelve miles in two and a half hours. Dickens would sometimes walk with family and visitors, who had difficulty keeping up, but he mainly walked alone and at night. His walking observations found themselves in his writing.

His father was the inspiration for Mr. Micawber in David Copperfield, and his mother, the character of Mrs. Nickleby in Nicholas Nickleby.

Writers and Mystery,
Denise

6 thoughts on “Happy Monday Morning!

  1. Twain/Clemens is one of the US’s most important writers. I’ve read most of his books and essays. One of our sculptor friends gave my husband a bust of an older Twain and he worked in every wrinkle and care-worn crevice he could to show the writer’s angst and disgust with our species.

    1. Susan, you are so lucky to have such a bust of Twain. I agree that he is a very important U.S. writer, who tackled issues long before many others did.

  2. Love this, Denise. Love all these authors. Can’t remember if I told you that I was re-reading Dickens during confinement? Just finished Little Dorrit today, so much of the action takes place in the dreaded Marshalsea prison for debtors -this is where Dickens’ father was sent. I’m stunned by his writing looking at it now from an adult perspective, and how very modern he is in his observations. Keep us posted about your short story and good luck ! 😉

    1. Laurette, I didn’t know you were re-reading Dickens. I’m not a huge classics fan, but it’s always interesting to read about them in different times. I listen to an audio of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn about a year or so and I’m amazed how he gave voice to the impoverished through a 14-year old and worked in racism. I still can’t understand how anyone thinks it’s okay to change an author’s words because a word offends them even though it was the vernacular at the time. I will keep you up on the story. 😀

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