Mark Twain in the West: An Exhibition
A 'Call' to Literature

Mark Twain’s First Lecture

They said nobody would come to hear me, and I would make a humiliating failure of it. They said that as I had never spoken in public, I would break down in the delivery, anyhow. I was disconsolate now. But at last an editor slapped me on the back and told me to “go ahead.” He said, “Take the largest house in town, and charge a dollar a ticket.” The audacity of the proposition was charming.

(Roughing It, chapter 78)

Advertisement from the San Francisco Alta California of 2 October 1866 for Mark Twain’s first lecture, which he delivered that evening at Maguire’s Academy of Music. The lecture, which he later entitled “Our Fellow Savages of the Sandwich Islands” and frequently revised, was drawn from his experiences as the Hawaiian correspondent of the Sacramento Union in the spring and summer of 1866. Its success led to Clemens’s first lecture tour, in California and Nevada Territory towns, including Sacramento, Marysville, Grass Valley, Red Dog, You Bet, and Virginia City.

University of California, Berkeley Mark Twain Papers and Project Maps Roughing It and Comments on Bret Harte Retracing Clemens's Steps Corresponding for the Sacramento Union Jackass Hill days in Clemens's Autobiography Sam Clemens in San Francisco, 1868 Stage fright and success Maguire's Academy of Music Mark Twain's first lecture 'Baker's Blue-Jay Yarn' 'I have had a 'call' to literature' A 'Call' to Literature California Gold Country San Francisco Correspondent Writing for the Enterprise Mining in Nevada Territory Exhibit Home Introduction and Chronology