ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Lighting Out For The Territory by Roy Morris, Jr., a book review

Updated on September 22, 2014
scan of book to show what it looks like for the article
scan of book to show what it looks like for the article

Youthful Years

This interesting book is subtitled “How Sam Clemens Headed West and Became Mark Twain.”  Morris is the author of five books on the Civil War and post-Civil War era. The title is based on the ending of Huckleberry Finn.

This biography concentrates on Twain’s youthful years, containing details of his life from the time of the Civil War through the time he spent in the Hawaiian Islands,

He tells the story showing the historical facts of Twain’s travels and intertwines Twain’s writings and shows how the experiences are reflected in the books and stories the famous writer published. In the process he rid me of a number of misconceptions.

Twain became a riverboat pilot, which was a prestigious thing like railroad engineers later, and airplane pilots now. It had its dangers and boiler explosions were one of them.

His brother Henry was killed in a steamboat tragedy  “To his everlasting regret, Sam brought his eighteen year old brother into the life as a mud clerk...” While they worked together on the Pennsylvania Sam got in an argument with another pilot and was put off the boat. Later seventy miles below Memphis the boiler exploded and killed 120 passengers and crew. Henry Clemens died from inhaling live steam while working to rescue others.

According to Morris the “date of Henry’s death, June 21, is used in “The Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” as the day the anti hero, Hank Morgan is scheduled to die.

Bret Harte


Sam meets Brett Harte

Twain wrote a story entitled “A Campaign that Failed.” It was somewhat about his short foray as a Confederate soldier. This biography tells also about the fact that both sides wanted to draft riverboat pilots to pilot boats for them. Since it took them years to learn the rivers that they were used to it appeared to be an unreasonable demand. It was a good time to head west with his older brother Orion. We learn that Orion was a well meaning but largely incompetent at all of his enterprises starting with his newspaper in Hannibal, Missouri.

Francis Brett Harte was close to Marks age and came west from Albany, NY. They met in 1864 while Twin was working at the Call. The two men shared a love of writing.  “Personally and professionally, Twain and Hart would always have a complicated relationship.”

Angels Home

This is where Twain first heard the jumping frog story. picture is in the public domain
This is where Twain first heard the jumping frog story. picture is in the public domain

Artemus Ward

I had been under the impression that the story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” was sent by impulse to a frontier newspaper and it got published. In fact he had been working on various papers and engaging in humor, pranks and hoaxes.

I also knew Twain was acquainted with Artemus Ward who told stories somewhat in the vain of his own. What I didn’t know was that had he an influence on Twain’s life. Ward played a country bumpkin on stage with stumbles, stutters and pauses, delivering funny lines as if he never knew he said anything funny. It was a technique Mark Twain adopted to his own stage act. Much the same technique that Andy Griffith practiced years later.

Young Mark Twain

public domain from wikimedia
public domain from wikimedia

Stage Performance

Twain was considering doing a public lecture on his on Hawaii travels. Bret Harte and Charles Warren Stoddard felt that the performance would not be good for his literary reputation. On the other hand, he had encouragement from George Barnes at the Call and John McComb at the Alta California.

According to the author Twain “…worked feverishly on what would become an eighty-five page, ninety minute long lecture.” He made his Hawaiian travel letters into an “artless performance…with carefully practiced stumbles. Stutters, blank-outs, and pauses, a la Artemus Ward.”

I had thought that Mark Twain only turned to the lecture circuit after he faced financial problems and dept. As it turns out he had tried it, with success, early in his career.

Another thing that was interesting was on his voyage to the Holy Land, which resulted in “Innocents Abroad”, he met Charley Langdon who was the brother to his future wife. Olivia.

I recommend this book to anyone wanting  an understanding of how Sam Clemens became Mark Twain.

location of Virginia City

virginia city, nevada:
Virginia City, NV 89521, USA

get directions

Virginia City was one place Mark Twain spent time in the West


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)