Mark Twain

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Mark Twain (1835–1910)[1] is the penname of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer, and author of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.

He visited South Africa in 1896, as part of a round the world trip of speaking engagements. This was written up in Following the Equator, a non-fiction social commentary in the form of a travelogue published by Mark Twain in 1897. [2] Although this social commentary is the great import of the book, it is notable that Twain also included a number of fictional stories in the body of what is otherwise a non-fiction work. This trip is also discussed in some detail in Around the World with Mark Twain, Robert Cooper's account of his own trip following in the footsteps of Twain.

While in the country he met many prominent people, and gave a series of public lectures (the At Home series of comic presentations) in the major cities.

His performances in and influence on South Africa

In 1896 Twain appeared in his At Home programme in the Theatre Royal, Durban (); Caledonian Hall, Pretoria (May); Standard Theatre, Johannesburg (May); the Bloemfontein City Hall (May?); the Queenstown Town Hall (June); the Mutual Hall on Market Square, East London (June); King William’s Town Theatre (June); the Albany Drill Hall, Grahamstown (June); the Port Elizabeth City Hall (June); the Opera House, Cape Town (3 performances, July); the Town Hall of the suburb of Claremont, Cape Town (3 performances, July);

In South Africa Percy Sieff developed a programme based on Twain's talks called Sincerely Yours, Mark Twain, which became a long-term vehicle for Sieff, who took this one-man show on Mark Twain across the globe, right into the late 1990s.

A play called One for the Road to Damaskus[3] by Temple Hauptfleisch (1945-) is based on a (fictional) chance meeting that takes place on the evening of Twain's performance in Cape Town, and contains adapted excerpts from Twain's talks. .


D.C. Boonzaier. 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1923. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p.404

Jill Fletcher. 1994. The Story of Theatre in South Africa: A Guide to its History from 1780-1930. Cape Town: Vlaeberg: p.120

Robert Cooper. 2000. Around the World with Mark Twain. Arcade Publishing

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