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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.."
The first in the White House American 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 natural 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 Symposium on Mark Twain 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, Berkley
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at the Mark Twain Symposium