The Only Footage Of Mark Twain Ever Filmed (And It’s By Thomas Edison!)

Am I a nerd or is this wicked cool? Smithsonian Mag just put up the only footage ever filmed of author Mark Twain, and it was taken by another legend, Thomas Edison.

The footage is from outside Twain’s estate in 1909 and according to Smithsonian, it really is the only video we have of the author of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. In it, Twain wanders around a path in front of his house and then has tea outside with his two daughters. Obviously, there’s no sound and it’s grainy black and white, but it’s still really neat to see this larger-than-life writer meandering about and drinking tea like a normal person.

Twain, in his later years here, looks exactly like I’d want him to: white suit, mustache, white hair. Sometimes I forget that these literary giants were actual people. Even the idea that Edison was behind the camera kind of gives me chills. (I did some research and he was probably using the kinetograph, an early motion picture camera created in Edison’s labs.)

I’ve watched it a few times and it’s making me smile. I thought this was a cool little snippet of history to enrich your evening. Enjoy! TC Mark


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  • Lizzy

    Stars — They’re just like us!

  • scott hughes

    Serious question: Why does old film footage seem to speed everything up? Is it a lower number of frames-per-second? And is it possible to slow it down to normal-looking speed?

    I know Google exists, but it would be nice to hear from someone directly for a change…

    • Nishant

      Lower frames per second being played at regular speed. If you slowed it down, you would see the image ‘jump’ from one frame to another.

      This was cool! :)

  • xraelex

    you’re a nerd and it’s cool

  • nightshaye

    That was great, thanks!!! Awesome for sharing that!

    A word to the wise and I apologize, however feel the truth is always better to come out, but don’t waste your time putting Edison on a pedestal.
    He was a stone-cold bastard. He didn’t invent the lightbulb (Nicola Tesla did, but Edison stole his work- he knew Tesla died prematurely and impoverished, but it was none of his concern), he did charming things like demonstrate the power of electricity he wanted to sell by electrocuting a circus elephant named Topsy to death, which took quite awhile and in front of a large crowd, etc., etc.
    And he made sure people would remember him into perpetuity as a great inventor by stealing other peoples ideas, which largely worked.
    Feel free to look it all up.

  • charlleyb

    Reblogged this on LESSONS of SUMMER and commented:
    i must be a nerd, cause this IS wicked cool, and yes, it made me giggle too. :D

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