In February of 1866, Mark Twain persuaded the Sacramento Union to hire him as “special correspondent” to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). In March he sailed, planning to stay just one month. He stayed four and wrote 25 letters, about 90,000 words, published in installments. The highlight was his scoop on the sinking of the clipper ship Hornet. These letters launched his fame as a serious journalist, travel writer and lecturer. "I was there for four or five months and returned to find myself about the best known man on the Pacific Coast."
Read in their entirety, the letters teem with fascinating characters, flora and fauna, native Hawaiians in catastrophic decline, unparalleled beauty, squalor and cats—hundreds of cats. Relentlessly searching for stories, his endless horseback riding laid him up with saddle sores. He surfed among nude women (who immediately left the water upon his approach) and scaled the summit of the volcano Kilauea during an eruption.
Mark Twain scholar Arianne Laidlaw, who prefers to call herself an obsessed amateur, will share her decades long obsession with this eternally fascinating author, Tuesday, May 29th at 7 PM. Who hired him to write the Letters from the Sandwich Islands? How and why did they make such a difference in his life and work? Her talk will answer those questions and offer a glimpse of the importance of the Sacramento Union in the mid-1860s.
If you enjoy history, you will like being part of the Sacramento County Historical Society. Since 1953, Sacramento County Historical Society has worked to preserve, promote and share local history. We offer informative publications, programs, and special events. The Society is a volunteer organization which on occasion, has advocated for the preservation of historical resources in the community. The greater Sacramento Region’s history is rich and complex. The Society's activities not only raise awareness about the past, but also are lively and fun. We bring history to life and make it happen. We welcome you to join us!