Mark Twain, filmed by Thomas Edison in 1909


My peregrinations around the internet led me to this charming footage of Mark Twain, filmed by Thomas Edison at the author’s estate in Stormfield, Conn., in 1909 – one of the many wonders of youtube. Twain is shown walking around his home and playing cards with his daughters Clara and Jean. The flickering is caused by film deterioration.  This is the only known footage of the author of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It is, of course, a “silent.”

A long day and a late night – more later.  I’d be curious, however, to hear what Twain expert and friend Shelley Fisher Fishkin thinks of this short film, 1 minute and 48 seconds long.

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7 Responses to “Mark Twain, filmed by Thomas Edison in 1909”

  1. Luc Bizet Says:

    I find your article, very interesting. 🙂
    Thank, cordially.
    Luc Bizet

  2. Elena Danielson Says:

    One American genius filmed by another.

  3. Michael Druck Says:

    Wonderful/ I was there and drove to a back road and all that is left of Stormfield is a iron gate ,which I found behind a growth of weeds. Thank you for this wonderful discovery.

  4. Shelley Fisher Fishkin Says:

    This short film bears witness to the many virtues of THE MAN IN WHITE, a book about the last three years of Mark Twain’s life, by Michael Shelden. Contrary to those who characterize Twain’s last years as unrelievedly grim and somber, Shelden emphasizes the many ways in which Twain lived every moment of his life to the fullest. An early adaptor par excellence (Twain had the first private phone & the first flush toilet in a private home in Connecticut), Twain embraced Edison’s new technology with appreciation and excitement. The despair that was also a central part of his final years cannot be denied–despair over his country’s disastrous foreign policy, and over having lost so many of the people that he loved. But that darkness was lightened by his embrace of the possibilities that the future held out. Edison’s motion pictures were a part of that future that Twain welcomed and embraced. How wonderful that we have this film to remind us of Twain’s appreciation of the possibilities that new technology held out to the 20th century and beyond.

  5. Amadea K. Nastiti Says:

    How fascinating! What an interesting and entertaining man, and what a life he lived! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  6. George Says:

    There is now an even cleaner and clearer version of this film posted on YouTube that is closer to the correct speed. It also shows Mr. Twain correctly positioned as he walks around the front of Stormfield, his final home and where he would later die. All the other versions of this film are flipped left to right according to all existing pictures of the original home’s front and rear.

  7. Cynthia Haven Says:

    Thanks, George. I’ll check it out.