Creative writing contest focuses on Quarry Farm Fireplace

Creative writing contest focuses on Quarry Farm FireplaceMark Twain lived at Quarry Farm for over 20 consecutive summers and is the place were Twain penned The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and many other important texts. In April 2017, Quarry Farm was designated a New York State Literary Landmark by United for Libraries and the Empire State Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book. Provided photo.

The Center for Mark Twain Studies is sponsoring a creative writing contest for area students in grades two through six, encouraging students to explore Mark Twain’s legacy in Elmira and the Southern Tier, and to submit their own creative writings by April 16.

While staying at Quarry Farm, Mark Twain often encouraged his children to create and tell their own stories based off the tiles adorning the parlor fireplace.  The 24 tiles around the fireplace depict fables written by ancient Greek storyteller, Aesop, who utilized animals, such as crows, snakes, mice and foxes, to illustrate moral lessons.

Students from schools within a 25-mile radius of Quarry Farm are encouraged to access the fireplace tiles on the Center for Mark Twain Studies website,, and create their own stories based on the tile images.

Three winners from three different schools will be chosen by Center for Mark Twain Studies staff.  

They have also received special permission to give the winners a personal tour inside Quarry Farm, normally only open to Twain Scholars. The winning students will be able to read their story next to the Quarry Farm parlor fireplace, tour Quarry Farm, and enjoy Mark Twain’s favorite dessert – gingerbread, vanilla ice cream and lemonade.

Submissions for the contest should be submitted by Monday, April 16, to the Center for Mark Twain Studies, Elmira College, 1 Park Place, Elmira, N.Y. 14901.  

Additional information, including a virtual tour of Quarry Farm, can be found online at

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