White House Symposium on the Life and
Works of Mark Twain
"To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of
into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself...Anybody can
have ideas - the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be
reduced to one glittering paragraph.."
- Mark Twain
Letter to Emeline Beach, February 10, 1868
The first in the White House Salute to America's Authors series, this
symposium celebrated the life and works of one of our best-known authors,
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, most commonly known by his pen name, Mark
Twain. Clemens was a born storyteller who was one of the first
writers to recognize that art could be created out of the American language.
Through his carefully chosen words and his sharply honed humor, he dealt
head-on with controversial issues that others were afraid to confront.
The Mark Twain Symposium was moderated by Eden Ross Lipson, children's book editor for The New York Times, and
featured Ken Burns, who presented excerpts from his documentary on Twain; Jocelyn Chadwick, assistant professor of
education at Harvard University; and Shelly Fisher Fishkin, a Twain scholar.
The Symposium concluded with an evening performance of Hal Holbrook's "Mark Twain Tonight" at historic Ford's Theatre.
For additional information about the life and works of Mark Twain. please visit:
Library of Congress, America's Library: Meet Amazing Americans: Mark Twain
Mark Twain House, Hartford, Conneticut
The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum
PBS: New Perspectives on the West
The Mark Twain Papers and Project, Bankcroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at the Mark Twain Symposium