TWAIN, Mark (1835-1910) a.k.a. Samuel Langhorne Clemens
Plaque erected in 1960 by London County Council at 23 Tedworth Square, Chelsea, London, SW3 5DR, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
SAMUEL L. CLEMENS "MARK TWAIN" 1835-1910 American Writer lived here in 1896-7
The great American writer Samuel L Clemens (1835–1910) is known internationally as Mark Twain, the author of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He is honoured with a plaque at 23 Tedworth Square in Chelsea, where he lived in 1896–7.
Born in Florida, Samuel Langhorne Clemens tried his hand at various occupations – including as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi – before turning to journalism and fiction writing. As Mark Twain, he first achieved literary fame with The Innocents Abroad (1869). This was followed by a string of successful books – Roughing It (1872), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), The Prince and the Pauper (1881), Life on the Mississippi (1883) – which culminated with The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884).
Between 1891 and 1900 Twain went on an extended lecture tour of Europe, and was in London for a good part of that period. Distressed at the death of his daughter Susy in August 1896, Twain maintained ‘complete seclusion’ at 23 Tedworth Square, where he lived with his wife Olivia from autumn 1896 until June 1897. They only received ‘two or three intimate friends’ and it has been said that ‘Perhaps not a dozen people in London knew their address and the outside world was ignorant of it altogether’.
Nonetheless his time at number 23 was productive. His daughter Clara Clemens described how he ‘used to rise sometimes as early as four or five o’clock in the morning. Never did he write more continuously’. When the plaque was erected in 1960 Clara recalled how her family had ‘loved that little house and all the surrounding region.’