The Trouble Begins

The Mark Twain House & Museum began its The Trouble Begins lecture series in 2010. The title of the lecture series comes from a handbill advertising Mark Twain’s October 2, 1866, lecture presented at Maguire’s Academy of Music in San Francisco which stated “Doors open at 7 o’clock. The Trouble to begin at 8 o’clock.”

The Trouble Begins lecture series is held each spring and fall with free presentations featuring distinguished scholars who discuss elements of the life, work, and era of Mark Twain and use them to explore wider themes in the humanities and both historical and current issues.

From 2010-19 the Mark Twain House welcomed 64 scholars to our Lincoln Financial Auditorium stage. In 2020, thanks to a CT Humanities grant, The Trouble Begins series pivoted to a virtual program. Today, The Trouble Begins uses in-person, virtual, and hybrid formats to keep these presentations accessible to all and allow Twainiacs from all over the world to come together – whether in-person or virtually – to discuss all things Twain, share their passions, and have a bit of fun.

 Since 1985, the Center for Mark Twain Studies has hosted its own The Trouble Begins at Eight lecture series. You can access their lecture archive here.
Click Here to submit YOUR proposal to become a Trouble Begins Speaker!

2024 Trouble Begins Series

  • Wednesday, June 5th join author Percival Everett and Michael Harriot as they discuss Everett’s new book James – Learn more HERE
  • Thursday, June 20th join Jason Silverman as he talks about the historical connections between Twain and Lincoln – Learn more HERE

Life & Legacy of George Griffin

Kevin MacDonnell will present his new research on Griffin, published in the Spring 2024 edition of the Mark Twain Journal, which provides the most comprehensive look into Griffin’s life to date and brings us face to face with the man who is said to have inspired Jim in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. MacDonnell will then be joined by Dr. Scruggs and Rev. Blanks for a panel discussion moderated by Mark Twain House historian Steve Courtney. The panel will dive deeper into Griffin’s life as a prominent Black man in Hartford in Mark Twain’s era, what we can learn from Griffin, and how his legacy continues.

Benjamin Griffin on editing "Pudd'nhead Wilson"

This critical edition publishes—for the first time anywhere—the original manuscript and revised versions of Pudd’nhead Wilson. The text familiar since 1894, as editor Benjamin Griffin shows, was heavily edited and censored—first by the author himself under pressure from family and friends, then by his publishers.

Paul Schiller on Gillette Castle

Paul, a self-described “Castle Nerd” and “Gillexpert”, will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Gillette Castle and its namesake, William Gillette.

John Muller on Fredrick Douglass

Calling all Twainiacs and Douglassonians!

Known throughout the country and the world as two of the most recognized Americans of the 19th century, Mark Twain and Frederick Douglass shared numerous associations and friendships across generations and geography.

(Click on any title to be taken to the YouTube recording.)

Since its inception in 2010 The Trouble Begins lecture series has received support from The Center for Mark Twain Studies, Connecticut Humanities, and Webster Bank.

Click here to add your support for The Trouble Begins series