Monday, November 14, 2011

Nook Farm Book Talks Session Examines New Book on the Mark Twain House

The Mark Twain House itself is celebrated in the Nook Farm Book Talks session on Thursday, Dec.1, as participants in this book club-style monthly event discuss a brand-new work: 'The Loveliest Home That Ever Was': The Story of the Mark Twain House in Hartford by Steve Courtney.
Courtney will be present at the session to talk about his book, a lavishly illustrated work that treats Samuel Clemens' early life and beginning career; his and his wife Livy's move to Hartford; the house's design by architect Edward Tuckerman Potter; and its construction, furnishing and decoration.

Come for refreshments at 5  pm in the Mark Twain Museum Center, 351 Farmington Ave., Hartford. The discussion begins at 5:30. Reservations are recommended: or 860-522-9258, Ext. 317. The event is free.

The book describes the Clemens household's 17 years in the house and the major literary work Clemens did while he lived there (including "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court").

It provides glimpses of family life  -- how young Clara Clemens once screamed so loud and persistently after a pet calf had been been sold that her parents had to buy it back; how Twain had news bulletins piped up to his third-floor billiard room/study through a speaking tube; how daughter Susy wowed the family with her grasp of ancient history. 
And it relays the sad circumstances surrounding the family's abandonment of their beloved home, along with the house's amazing rescue from destruction, and rebirth as a world-class house museum.

"The Loveliest Home That Ever Was" includes a guided tour through the house's rooms and hallways, pointing out the exquisite details that decorate the entry hall, drawing room, dining room, library, conservatory, bedrooms, nursery, billiard room, butler's pantry and kitchen. Published by Dover Publications, it is illustated with numerous new color photos of the house exterior and interior by John Groo; rare archival images from the museum's collection; and a Foreword by the famed stage portrayer of Mark Twain, Hal Holbrook.

Steve Courtney, the publicist and publications editor at The Mark Twain House & Museum, is a journalist and author. His biography "Joseph Hopkins Twichell: The Life and Times of Mark Twain's Closest Friend," won the Connecticut Book Award in 2009.

Nook Farm Book Talks are a collaboration between The Mark Twain House & Museum and The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center.  Nook Farm Book Talks are supported in part by the Connecticut Humanities Council. For more information, call 860-247-0998 or visit

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced
numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont
Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.”

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway
League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill
Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at She
is editor of The award-winning Connecticut Arts Connection (,

She is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Contributing Editor for, Connecticut theater editor
for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web. Yarger is a book reviewer and writer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented
by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle (awards committee).

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts,
the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

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