Mark Twain's Guitar

Lost and Found Sound: Storyteller, Yes, But also a Singer

Mark Twain's guitar, a Martin, style 2½-17, stands upright. It is a rich, deep red color

hide captionMark Twain's guitar: a Martin, style 2½-17.

Bianca Soros

Produced by Noah Adams and Bob Boilen.

Mark Twain, guitarist, singer, and literary legend, was first exposed to music by his sister Pamilla. She supplemented the family income by teaching guitar and piano. He obtained his guitar used in 1861 (in 1835 it was $10 new) and kept it in close company until shortly before his death in 1910.

He sang and played for newspaper men of the Nevada Territories, miners from California's Gold Rush days and for passengers aboard Ajax, a clipper ship bound for the Hawaiian Islands. But mostly he played for the willing women of the West. In December 1866, Mark Twain brought his Martin 2 ½-17 guitar aboard the steamer America and sailed from San Francisco to New York City, where he would seek his fortune.

~ Excerpted from a Bianca Soros' article in Acoustic Guitar magazine.

While on board America, Mark Twain composed the poem Genius, which has been excerpted from his private journal. (The Link to it is below.)

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