Explore. Dream. Discover.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Perhaps better remembered for his novels ‘Tom Sawyer’ and ‘Huckleberry Finn’ in his day, Mark Twain was better known as an author of travel books and remains probably one of the greatest travel writers of all time.
Twain had a burst of popularity after publishing his first work and the Sacramento Union Newspaper commissioned him to write letters about his travel experiences. The first journey he took for the job was to ride the steamer Ajax on its maiden voyage to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), all the while writing letters to the newspaper
His letters to the Union Newspaper were popular and in 1867, a local newspaper funded a five month trip to the Mediterranean aboard the ship ‘Quaker City’, including a tour of Europe and the Middle East. On his voyage he wrote a collection of travel letters which were later compiled as ‘The Innocents Abroad’ published in 1869.
The Innocents Abroad, or ‘The New Pilgrims' Progress’ humorously chronicles what Twain called his "Great Pleasure Excursion" through Europe and the Holy Land with a group of American travellers and remains one of the best-selling travel books of all time.
Innocents Abroad presents itself as an ordinary travel book based on his actual voyage in the retired Civil War ship. The excursion was billed as a Holy Land expedition, with numerous stops and side trips along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. In the five months Twain managed to complete the voyage and include:
- A train excursion from Marseille to Paris for the 1867 Paris Exhibition during the reign of Napoleon III and the Second French Empire
- A journey through the Papal States to Rome
- A trip through the Black Sea to Odessa
- An excursion through the Holy Land
In 1872, he published his second piece of travel literature ‘Roughing It’ as an account of his journey from Missouri to Nevada, his subsequent life in the American West, and his visit to Hawaii. The book lampoons American and Western society in the same way that Innocents critiqued the various countries of Europe and the Middle East.
“..nothing so liberalizes a man and expands the kindly instincts that nature put in him as travel and contact with many kinds of people.”
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”