Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Did You Know Mark Twain Loved Billiards? Check Out These Rare Photographs of Twain Playing Pool, ca. 1900s

The American author Mark Twain, revered for writing classic novels such as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and Adventures of Tom Sawyer, was a billiards lover. In fact, there are several documents and speeches that highlight just how much Twain loved billiards. Literature enthusiasts should be thankful that Twain removed himself from a billiards table long enough to write the classic novels.

In the Mark Twain House and Museum, visitors can see the original billiards table the author played on. Twain used the billiards table to spread out his manuscripts while writing the previously mentioned novels.

In a public speech made in 1906, Twain said the following:
The game of billiards has destroyed my naturally sweet disposition. Once, when I was an underpaid reporter in Virginia City, whenever I wished to play billiards I went out to look for an easy mark. One day a stranger came to town and opened a billiard parlor. I looked him over casually. When he proposed a game, I answered, “All right.”

“Just knock the balls around a little so that I can get your gait,” he said; and when I had done so, he remarked: “I will be perfectly fair with you. I’ll play you left-handed.” I felt hurt, for he was cross-eyed, freckled, and had red hair, and I determined to teach him a lesson. He won first shot, ran out, took my half-dollar, and all I got was the opportunity to chalk my cue.

“If you can play like that with your left hand,” I said, “I’d like to see you play with your right.”

“I can’t,” he said. “I’m left-handed.”
Based on this statement, Twain was a much better author than a pool hustler.

In Twain’s autobiography, The Boys Life of Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine describes Twain’s passion with billiards. After several years without a billiards table, Twain was given a pool table as an early Christmas gift by a wealthy friend, Mrs. Henry Rogers. In fact, Paine eventually moved into the Twain’s house at that time to “continue research.” Paine and Twain spent countless amounts of time around the billiards table, which is described in the latter half of the book.

(via Robbies Billiards)

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