What's New

WRITING HISTORICAL BIOGRAPHIES Workshop with Vladimir Alexandrov

Saturday September 6th 1-4 pm $40

This workshop will cover all aspects of creating a non-fiction book for publication by a trade press, specifically--a biography of a person from the past.  Topics to include--subjects that trade presses might find attractive, how to research your subject, write the book, write a proposal, find and pitch an agent, work with a publishing house when your book is sold, and publicize the book both before and after it appears.  The workshop will be based on Vladimir Alexandrov's experiences with The Black Russian, the biography of the son of former slaves in Mississippi who became a millionaire entrepreneur in tsarist Moscow and the "Sultan of Jazz" in Constantinople (for more, see www.valexandrov.com).  The book was published by Grove/Atlantic (NYC) and Head of Zeus (London) in hardcover and paperback in 2013/14, has gotten great reviews, and is forthcoming in Russia and Turkey;  it has also been optioned for a film or TV series, and there is a musical version in the works.  Vladimir will also refer to his preliminary research on two other possible book subjects dealing with the American Civil War, and to his current project--a new biography of Boris Savinkov, a Russian revolutionary and terrorist who fought the tsar, Lenin, and the Bolsheviks.

Vladimir teaches Russian literature at Yale, and after publishing a number of books on academic topics switched to trade-press non-fiction.  He gave a book talk at the Mark Twain House and Museum last winter and also participated in its "Writer's Weekend" last spring.

To register, call (860) 280-3130.

WRITING WITH FOUND TEXTS Mini-Class begins 9/4

Writing from Found Texts

4 Thursdays, 6-8 pm, beginning Sept 4th, $199

Register by calling (860) 280-3130 or click here.

Working with “Found Texts” to Shape Form and Content: A Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Workshop 

From to-do lists to diary entries, from recipes to photographs, from PowerPoint presentations to maps, non-literary texts—or “found texts”—are often central in shaping fiction and creative nonfiction pieces. Found texts, any texts whose original purpose is in some way expanded, built upon, or transformed to take on the new purpose of creating a literary text, are ubiquitous in contemporary prose. In A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan writes a whole chapter as a PowerPoint presentation. Lorrie Moore in many of her pieces adopts the “how to” guide. Douglas Coupland inserts emails, advertising, labels, and other fragments of daily texts into his work. Laura Esquivel uses recipes to frame her novel Like Water for Chocolate. A whole anthology, Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, "Found" Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts, was published in 2012. In this workshop, we will read these and a number of other writers of fiction and nonfiction who make use of found texts in their work, and we will also explore the potential of using found texts in our own writing projects. We will engage in a series of short writing exercises working with a variety of texts, including advertisements, to-do lists, emails, recipe collections and menus, historical documents, social media texts, timelines, and diaries, examining how such texts can influence both the form and content of our work. At the culmination of the workshop writers will develop their own independent projects based on one or more found texts. 

Yelizaveta P. Renfro is the author of a collection of essays, Xylotheque, available from the University of New Mexico Press, and a collection of short stories, A Catalogue of Everything in the World, winner of the St. Lawrence Book Award. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Glimmer Train Stories, North American Review, Colorado Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, South Dakota Review, Witness, Reader’s Digest, Blue Mesa Review, Parcel, Adanna, Fourth River, Bayou Magazine, Untamed Ink, So to Speak, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from George Mason University and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska.

BECK & CALL The Servants Tour (Directed by HartBeat Ensemble's Steven Raider-Ginsburg)

Friday, September 5, Tours begin at 7:00 p.m.

Help! The servants at Mark Twain's House are expecting a full-on assault of overnight guests. With famous faces coming for an elegant dinner, three guest rooms to prepare and 25 rooms worth of dusting, the hired help may need a helping hand. With BECK & CALL, our fun, new interactive nighttime servants tour of The Mark Twain House, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to get the Clemens home ship-shape for overnight entertaining. You may even be asked to pitch in! With costumed interpreters appearing throughout the house, fans of "Upstairs/Downtairs" and "Downton Abbey" will love this look at the organized chaos that it took to cook, clean and care for the Clemens Family.

Special Added Attraction: Be among the first to see the 3rd floor Artists Friends Guest Room, reopened for the first time in two decades!

BECK & CALL The Servants Tour - The first Friday of every month, April through September (except for July, which will be on the second Friday of that month)

Beck & Call is supported by the City of Hartford Arts & Heritage Jobs Grant Program, Pedro E. Segarra, Mayor.

$22 for adults with discounts for children and members. Reservations required. For tickets, please call (860) 280-3130.

Nook Farm Book Talk: "Vanished Downtown Hartford" with Daniel Sterner

Wednesday, September 3, 5:00 p.m. Reception/5:30 p.m. Discussion at Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

Early nineteenth-century illustrations of Hartford, Connecticut, show church steeples towering over the Victorian homes and brownstone faades of businesses around them. The modern skyline of the town has lost many of these elegant steeples and their quaint and smaller neighbors. Banks have yielded to newer banks, and organizations like the YMCA are now parking lots. In the 1960s, Constitution Plaza replaced an entire neighborhood on Hartford's east side. The city has evolved in the name of progress, allowing treasured buildings to pass into history. Those buildings that survive have been repurposed--the Old State House, built in 1796, is one of the oldest and has found new life as a museum. Yet the memory of these bygone landmarks and scenes has not been lost. Historian Daniel Sterner recalls the lost face of downtown and preserves the historic landmarks that still remain with this nostalgic exploration of Hartford's structural evolution.

Followed by a book sale and signing.

The event is free, but registration is encouraged at 860-522-9258, Ext. 317.

BOOK/MARK: "Abortion in the American Imagination: Before Life and Choice 1880-1940" with Karen Weingarten

Thursday, September 11, 7:00 p.m. at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

The public debate on abortion stretches back much further than Roe v. Wade, to long before the terms "pro-choice" and "pro-life" were ever invented. Yet the ways Americans discussed abortion in the early decades of the twentieth century had little in common with our now-entrenched debates about personal responsibility and individual autonomy.

Abortion in the American Imagination returns to the moment when American writers first dared to broach the controversial subject of abortion. What was once a topic avoided by polite society, only discussed in vague euphemisms behind closed doors, suddenly became open to vigorous public debate as it was represented everywhere from sensationalistic melodramas to treatises on social reform. Literary scholar and cultural historian Karen Weingarten shows how these discussions were remarkably fluid and far-ranging, touching upon issues of eugenics, economics, race, and gender roles.

Weingarten traces the discourses on abortion across a wide array of media, putting fiction by canonical writers like William Faulkner, Edith Wharton, and Langston Hughes into conversation with the era's films, newspaper articles, and activist rhetoric. By doing so, she exposes not only the ways that public perceptions of abortion changed over the course of the twentieth century, but also the ways in which these abortion debates shaped our very sense of what it means to be an American.

Presented in collaboration with the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center.

Followed by a book sale and signing.

The event is free, but registration is encouraged at 860-522-9258, Ext. 317.

Book/Mark - THE SCARLET SISTERS: Sex, Suffrage and Scandal in the Gilded Age with Myra MacPherson

Tuesday, September 9, 7:00 p.m.

Victoria Woodhull and Tennesee “Tennie” Clafin were two women before their time, supporting women’s political and sexual rights. Author Myra MacPherson brings to life these scarlet sisters, including the affairs with Vanderbilts, the candidacy to be female president, and their muck-raking newspaper that caused controversy in Nook Farm and beyond!

Presented in collaboration with the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center.

Followed by a book sale and signing.

This is a free event. Reservations are recommended. Please call (860) 280-3130.

Visit both Stowe and Mark Twain in one tour!

Park once and visit both houses!

Come to Nook Farm, Hartford’s most desirable neighborhood in the 19th Century and take  a combined tour of both the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and The Mark Twain House.  

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s elegant Victorian Gothic home, surrounded by award-winning gardens, was the famous writer’s final residence for her  last twenty-three years. Having set the world on fire with her seminal abolitionist novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Stowe continued her boundary-breaking work in Hartford’s Nook Farm.

Across the lawn, in 1874, Samuel Clemens, a new celebrity known by the name “Mark Twain,” built a 25-room Picturesque Gothic mansion that would soon become the talk of the town.  Within its walls, he would work on the novels that would change the face of American literature: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Prince & The Pauper, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

You can tour both impeccably-restored homes, learn about the lives of their world-renowned residents, and discover how two Hartford neighbors changed literature and continued to shape a nation’s view of itself.


Combined tours are offered every hour on the hour beginning at 10 AM (Mon-Sat) -or on Sunday beginning at 1 PM.  Last combined tour steps off at 4 PM every day. Tour is approximately 90 minutes short!  Offered every day! 


Adults (17 -64)     $23

Seniors (65+)       $21

Children (6-16)     $15  

Ask about discounts for members of the Stowe Center and members of the Mark Twain House.

Tickets may be purchased at either the Stowe Visitor Center or the Mark Twain Museum Center.

Regular tour offerings of each of the houses are also available.


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