Roughing It

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Roughing It
Twain RoughingIt.jpg
First edition
Author Mark Twain
Country United States
Language English
Genre Travel literature
Publisher American Publishing Company
Publication date
Media type Print
Pages 607
Preceded by The Innocents Abroad
Followed by The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today

Roughing It is a book of semi-autobiographical travel literature written by American humorist Mark Twain. It was written during 1870–71 and published in 1872 as a prequel to his first book Innocents Abroad. This book tells of Twain's adventures prior to his pleasure cruise related in Innocents Abroad.

Roughing It follows the travels of young Mark Twain through the Wild West during the years 1861–1867. After a brief stint as a Confederate cavalry militiaman (not included in the account), he joined his brother Orion Clemens, who had been appointed Secretary of the Nevada Territory, on a stagecoach journey west. Twain consulted his brother's diary to refresh his memory and borrowed heavily from his active imagination for many stories in the book.

Roughing It illustrates many of Twain's early adventures, including a visit to Salt Lake City, gold and silver prospecting, real-estate speculation, a journey to the Kingdom of Hawaii, and his beginnings as a writer.

In this memoir, readers can see examples of Twain's rough-hewn humor, which would become a staple of his writing in his later books, such as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

U.S. astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell read "Roughing It" aloud to pass the time aboard NASA's Gemini VII, a 14-day-long Earth orbital mission in December 1965. Borman recalls reading the book during an on-camera interview in the 1999 PBS-TV (USA) television program "Nova: To the Moon".

2002 movie adaptation[edit]

Based on Twain's book, this made-for-cable film is presented in flashback form, as aged humorist Mark Twain (James Garner) is invited as the keynote speaker for the Bryn Mawr College graduation ceremonies of 1891. At first concerned that his reputation as a humorist will embarrass his daughter Susy (Jewel Staite), who is among the graduates, Twain decides to throw all caution to the winds by delivering an inspirational speech in which he recalls his own early days as a Missouri-bred greenhorn on the wild western frontier. Admitting that his recollections may stretch the truth a bit ("When I was younger, I could remember it, whether it happened or not"), Twain spins a tale of two brothers, Sam and Orion Clemens ("Sam Clemens" was of course, Twain's given name). Jealous over Orion's (Greg Spottiswood) appointment as secretary to the governor of the Nevada Territory, young Sam Clemens (Robin Dunne) insists on tagging along, but soon parts ways when he decides that nascent Carson City does not suit his desire for adventure. In search of fortune and his destiny, what ensues is an extended adventure which includes a rugged interlude digging for gold under the baleful eye of a brutal foreman (Eric Roberts); a wild card game during torrential rains; a bone-chilling winter; bandits and outlaws; along with an episode with Mr. Slade (Ned Beatty), a cruel man that's killed 26 men for petty reasons, and kept their ears as a "calling card". The cast also includes Jill Eikenberry as Twain's wife Livy and Adam Arkin as a "wild-eyed character" named Henry. Filmed in Calgary, the four-hour miniseries version of Mark Twain's Roughing It was presented by the Hallmark cable channel beginning March 16, 2002.


  1. ^ Facsimile of the original 1st edition.

External links[edit]