Mark Twain's Study – Elmira, New York - Atlas Obscura

Mark Twain's Study

The wooden octagon in which Huckleberry Finn and A Connecticut Yankee were born can still be visited in upstate New York. 


Mark Twain (nee Samuel Clemens), possibly one of the most gifted American satirists and authors to ever put pen to paper, famously made his home in Connecticut, but it was in a small hut in an Elmira, New York farm that he composed many of his most famous works. This very hut now sits in the middle of a college campus, inspiring new generations of writers on a daily basis.  

Clemens summered in Elmira at the home of his in-laws, the Langdon’s, for much of his adult life. He alternated between the Langdon mansion in Elmira and Quarry Farm up on a nearby hill. From the farm, which Clemens often walked to, the author could look over the Chemung valley. It was here, in an octagon study built for him by his sister-in-law, that he wrote his most famous works including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court just to name a few. The private study not only provided Twain with the quietude he required to write, but also kept his pipe smoke out of his sister-in-law’s house. 

Today, over a hundred years after the author’s death, his writings are still as vital and biting as they ever were, and the small shack that bore them to the page has been accordingly preserved. No longer on an isolated farm, the study now sits on the campus of Elmira College. The small octagonal shack still holds the brick fireplace and simple writing desk that Twain used, as well as a picture of the man on the mantle. Students and visitors can even enter and sit in the chair just as Twain did, although none have yet to reach the same heights of literary genius.   

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