Courtesy of The Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art • Artwork by Nicolas Silk Mark Twain had an ongoing love affair with Bermuda. His deep affection for the island was well chronicled in his writing and captured in his numerous quips and comments. It was a stroke of luck that the most famous literary figure of his day was so vocal about the attributes of the island. Between 1867 and 1910, Twain spent a total of 187 days visiting the island, during which time he interacted with the locals and observed their idiosyncrasies of life on the isolated but bucolic Bermuda. Twain actively promoted the island as a tourist’s paradise, which, due to his international reputation, was extremely influential in reversing the generally held thought in the United States — especially in the North after the Civil War — that Bermuda was not the crassly commercial colony whose only thought was profit in its support of the Confederacy. Bermuda was a place that few Americans wanted to visit in the post-war years. Through his enthusiastic writings, Twain extolled the climate and “the Islands of the Blessed where the British have decorum and cleanliness prevailed; a place where snow-white houses peeped from dull green vegetation…” During his first visit on the SS Quaker City in 1867, he dispatched letters to the San Francisco Alta California on Bermuda’s newly established telegraphic facility. The revised form of these letters became The Innocents Abroad, which won him immediate international attention. To this day, the name Mark Twain puts an instant smile on Bermudians’ faces; and his association with what he referred to as “those blessed isles” remains constant.
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