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Tom Sawyer's Days 1835-1853
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Illustration from Tom Sawyer

Illustration from Tom Sawyer
Courtesy of The Mark Twain House, Hartford

Tom Sawyer Days 1835-1853

Samuel Clemens had a favorite word whenever he described his boyhood home of Hannibal, Missouri: drowsing. He meant that it was a place halfway between sleeping and awake, a lazy outpost on the Mississippi River, where he and his friends lived in a world of straw hats, corn-cob pipes, trout fishing, playing hooky, and watching steamboats ply the river.

Clemens would later call these his “Tom Sawyer days,” a time when he himself pulled many of the pranks he later attributed to his young hero. He lived there from the age of four to fifteen, and he relived those days for the rest of his life in books like Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and Life on the Mississippi.