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.

Click Here to submit YOUR proposal to become a Trouble Begins Speaker!

Upcoming Lectures

History of the Ampersand Hotel with Mikalya Ploof -- Wednesday, September 20th 7:00PM ET

  • Get Your Tickets Here

  • Twain's Writing and Leisure Habits with Dr. Kerry Driscoll -- Wednesday, October 4th 7:00PM ET

  • Get Your Tickets Here

  • History of Summer Reading with Donna Harrington-Lueker -- Wednesday, October 11th 7:00PM ET

  • Get Your Tickets Here

  • History of ADK Camps by Robert Engel in conversation with Pieter Roos -- Wednesday, October 25th 7:00PM ET

  • Get Your Tickets Here

  • The House that Trudeau Built with Chessie Monks-Kelly

  • Get Your Tickets Here

  • Barbara Snedecor talks about her new book "Gravity: Selected Letters of Olivia Langdon Clemens" with Steve Courtney-- Monday, November 27th 7:00PM ET

  • Get Your Tickets Here

  • The Trouble Begins with Joe Lemak and Matt Seybold in conversation with Betsy Maguire

    When Samuel Clemens married Olivia Langdon on February 2, 1870, Elmira, New York would become a cornerstone for their family life. Sam, Livy, and their daughters would visit Quarry Farm, the Langdon’s Elmire home, during the summer. And the family is buried in Elmira’s Woodlawn Cemetery. In 1982, Elmira College became home to the Center for Mark Twain Studies (CMTS) thanks to the gift of Quarry Farm to Elmira College by the Langdon family, Mark Twain’s in-laws.

    The Trouble Begins with Jane Curley

    A Model Case of Oh Hellyes! The Clemens spend a happy summer at Onteora in 1890.

    During the summer of 1890, the Clemens family found themselves perched high on a mountaintop in the Catskills. Life there was primitive, just one step above a camping adventure. They stayed in a rough cottage across the road from a small Inn, the Bear and Fox, where they took their meals and socialized with other hardy residents of this newly-formed community, Onteora. In her talk, Jane Curley will explore why the Clemens chose to come to Onteora, who else summered there, and what they all did to amuse themselves.

    The Trouble Begins with Will Mackintosh

    Mark Twain’s enduring popularity as a writer lies at least partly in his ability to confront the stories Americans tell themselves about themselves as a people, to articulate them, analyze them, and satirize them if necessary. In the spirit of Twain, this lecture traces the origin stories that nineteenth-century Americans told themselves about the mineral springs and spa towns where they took their vacations.

    The Mark Twain House & Museum’s The Trouble Begins lecture series is sponsored by the Center for Mark Twain Studies in Elmira, NY. 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.

    The Trouble Begins lecture series has also received support from Connecticut Humanities and Webster Bank.

    Click here to add your support for The Trouble Begins series