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‘Twain’s Women’ coming to cultural center

“There is nothing comparable to the endurance of a woman. In military life she would tire out an army of men, either in camp or on the march.”

– Mark Twain in his autobiography

To celebrate the American master writer’s great appreciation of, and inspiration by, the female sex, Mark Twain impersonator McAvoy Layne offers “The Women in Mark Twain’s Life” at Incline Village on Friday, March 25. The event will be held at the Mark Twain Cultural Center.



Layne starting at 7 p.m. will combine his talent and research into Twain’s world, both real and fictional, with a bit of technology he has never utilized in a talk.

After 30 years of portraying Twain, “for the first time I’ll be using PowerPoint,” he says.



Images of the women and literary characters will shed an often humorous snapshot on Twain’s women during most of the 19th century and into the early 20th. Twain, whose real name was Samuel Clemens, traveled throughout Northern Nevada and California during the two states’ turbulent beginnings as a reporter for several newspapers and where he met a host of intriguing females.

The evening begins with stories of “One-eyed” Charlie Parkhurst. Death delivered the secret of the legendary stagecoach driver during the 1850s and ’60s.

The exploits of San Francisco’s Lillie Hitchcock Coit, the trouser-wearing, cigar-chomping and volunteer fire department-loving free spirit for whom Coit Tower was named, whetted his appetite for inspiring women. A late career story of Hellhouse Hodgekiss paid tribute to the lifelong tomboy.

His biggest inspiration came from Olivia Langdon.

“What a romance that was,” Layne about Clemens’ 34-year marriage.

Smitten first at her beauty by glancing at a photograph Clemens pursued his “Livie” for several years and had to work hard to overcome her wealthy father’s initial resistance. The couple’s devotion to each other was legendary.

Helen Keller, the deaf and blind author and social reformer, also captured Clemens’ attention. Her ability to pick him out of a crowd by the mere touch of his hand “stupefied and amazed him” Layne said.

Discovering the feminine side of America’s bard will prove a boon to all his fans.


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