Below is a sampling of some of Twain's writing that has been published in The Atlantic Monthly.
"A True Story, Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It" (November 1874)
Twain was born and raised in Missouri, a slave-holding state. An early
influence on him was a slave named Uncle Daniel who told ghost stories to
gatherings of local children. Twain's first contribution to The
Atlantic, featuring a monologue delivered by a former slave, reflects those
"Well, bymeby my ole mistis say she's broke, an' she got to sell all de niggers
on de place. An' when I heah dat dey gwyne to sell us all off at action in
Richmon', oh de good gracious! I know what dat mean!"
Aunt Rachel had gradually risen, while she warmed to her subject, and now she
towered above us, black against the stars.
"Dey put chains on us an' put us on a stan' as high as dis po'ch,—twenty
foot high,—an' all de people stood aroun', crowds an' crowds. An' dey'd come
up dah an' look at us all roun', an' squeeze our arm, an' make us git up an'
walk, an' den say, 'Dis one don't 'mount to much.' An' dey sole my ole man, an'
took him away, an' dey begin to sell my chil'en an' take dem away, an' I begin
"The Facts Concerning the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut" (June
In early 1876 Twain wrote a story about an encounter between himself and his
(anthropomorphized) conscience, to deliver at one of the regular meetings of
The Monday Evening Club, an association of writers and intellectuals in
Hartford, where he then lived. Some viewed this story as a turning point in
Twain's work—representing the introduction of moral issues into his writing,
which previously had been intended mainly to entertain. Howells published the
story in The Atlantic that spring.
The door opened, and a shriveled, shabby dwarf entered. He was not more than
two feet high. He seemed to be about forty years old. Every feature and every
inch of him was a trifle out of shape; and so, while one could not put his
finger upon any particular part and say, "This is a conspicuous deformity," the
spectator perceived that this little person was a deformity as a whole—a
vague, general, evenly-blended, nicely-adjusted deformity.... And yet, this
vile bit of human rubbish seemed to bear a sort of remote and ill-defined
resemblance to me!
"Some Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion" (October 1877-January 1878)
In May, 1877, Twain went on a ten-day vacation to Bermuda with a close friend
from Hartford, Reverend Joseph Hopkins Twichell. He kept a journal during the
trip which he later expanded into an account that appeared in The
Atlantic in four installments.
The early twilight of a Sunday evening, in Hamilton, Bermuda, is an alluring
time. There is just enough of whispering, breeze, fragrance of flowers, and
sense of repose to raise one's thoughts heavenward; and just enough amateur
piano music to keep him reminded of the other place....
We never met a man, or woman, or child anywhere in this sunny island who seemed
to be unprosperous, or discontented, or sorry about anything. This sort of
monotony became very tiresome presently, and even something worse. The
spectacle of an entire nation groveling in contentment is an infuriating
"A Telephonic Conversation" (June 1880)
Twain's family was one of the first in Hartford to install a telephone
(which had been invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876) in their home. In
1880, Twain, bemused by this new device that permitted eavesdroppers to hear
only one side of a conversation, wrote an amusing description of overhearing
his wife talk on the telephone.
Then followed that queerest of all the queer things in this world,—a
conversation with only one end to it. You hear questions asked; you don't hear
the answer. You hear invitations given; you hear no thanks in return. You have
listening pauses of dead silence, followed by apparently irrelevant and
unjustifiable exclamations of glad surprise, or sorrow, or dismay. You can't
make head or tail of the talk, because you never hear anything that the person
at the other end of the wire says.