The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

First editon was 275 pages, with 160 illustrations. Mark Twain's first novel without a co-author.
Written off and on from 1872-75, Tom Sawyer was published in 1876, by the American Publishing Co.
Released in England and Germany a full six months before an American version was issued.
By Clemens' death, it was the best selling of all his books, and remains so until today. The fictional St. Petersburg, Missouri, was based on Clemens' real-life hometown of Hannibal.

Now, far away in the woods a bird called; another answered; presently the hammering of a woodpecker was heard. Gradually the cool dim gray of the morning whitened, and as gradually sounds multiplied and life manifested itself. The marvel of Nature shaking off sleep and going to work unfolded itself to the musing boy. A little green worm came crawling over a dewy leaf, lifting two-thirds of his body into the air from time to time and "sniffing around," then proceeding again for he was measuring, Tom said; and when the worm approached him, of its own accord, he sat as still as a stone, with his hopes rising and falling, by turns, as the creature still came toward him or seemed inclined to go elsewhere; and when at last it considered a painful moment with its curved body in the air and then came decisively down upon Tom's leg and began a journey over him, his whole heart was glad for that meant that he was going to have a new suit of clothes without the shadow of a doubt a gaudy piratical uniform. Now a procession of ants appeared, from nowhere in particular, and went about their labors; one struggled manfully by with a dead spider five times as big as itself in its arms, and lugged it straight up a tree-trunk. A brown spotted lady-bug climbed the dizzy height of a grass blade, and Tom bent down close to it and said, "Lady-bug, lady-bug, fly away home, your house is on fire, your children's alone," and she took wing and went off to see about it which did not surprise the boy, for he knew of old that this insect was credulous about conflagrations and he had practiced upon its simplicity more than once.
Many of the characters in the book were based on real people in Hannibal that Clemens knew growing up. Tom Sawyer spawned several sequels, including: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884); Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894); Tom Sawyer, Detective (1896); Tom Sawyer's Conspiracy (1897, unfinished).
The real life Laura Hawkins was the inspiration for Becky Thatcher. John Briggs is the source for Tom's best friend, Joe Harper.
Theatrical versions were being staged as early as 1884; Clemens' own Tom Sawyer, A Play in 4 Acts, was produced in 1885.
The earliest film version was 1917's Tom Sawyer, produced by Jesse Lasky. The first sound version was in 1930, and the first color version was in 1938. In 1973, a musical version was released, starring Johnnie Whitaker as Tom, and Jodie Foster as Becky. A three-hour Soviet adaptation was produced in 1982.


Tom joined the new order of Cadets of Temperance, being attracted by the showy character of their "regalia." He promised to abstain from smoking, chewing and profanity as long as he remained a member. New he found out a new thing-namely, that to promise not to do a thing is the surest way in the world to make a body want to go and do that very thing. Tom soon found himself tormented with a desire to drink and swear; the desire grew to be so intense that nothing but the hope of a chance to display himself in his red sash kept him from withdrawing from the order. Fourth of July was coming; but he soon gave that up gave it up before he had worn his shackles over forty-eight hours fixed his hopes upon old Judge Frazer, justice of the peace, who was apparently on his death-bed and would have a big public funeral, since he was so high an official. During three days Tom was deeply concerned about the Judge's condition and hungry for news of it. Sometimes his hopes ran high so high that he would venture to get out his regalia and practice before the looking-glass. But the Judge had a most discouraging way of flutuating. At last he was pronounced upon the mend and then convalescent. Tom was disgusted; and felt a sense of injury, too. He handed in his resignation at once and that night the Judge suffered a relapse and died. Tom resolved that he would never trust a man like that again.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is concerned with the escapades of a young boy living in a Mississippi River town during a summer in the 1840s.

Tom lives with his Aunt Polly, his dead mother's sister, along with his half-brother, Sid, and his cousin, Mary. By the second chapter, Tom's mischevous character is revealed with the well-known fence whitewashing scene. Tom meets the new girl in town, Becky Thatcher, and falls in love with her. He begins an intense flirtation with her at school, which leads to his asking her to be "engaged" with him by lunchtime of her first day.

Tom's vagabond friend Huck Finn, the town drunk's son, asks Tom to meet him at the cemetery at midnight, to test the wart-curing properties of his dead cat. While there, the boys stumble upon the murder of Dr. Robinson by Injun Joe during a graverobbing attempt. Muff Potter, also part of the gang, is pinned with the crime by Injun Joe. Tom and Huck, however, are the only ones who know the truth.

Tom, Huck, and another friend, Joe Harper, decide to run away from St. Petersburg to Jackson's Island, in the middle of the Mississippi. There they live the life of pirates, frolicking day and night. After several days, the town prepares funeral services for the boys, by this time being convinced of their death. The boys dramatically return to town in the middle of the Sunday church services, and they are forgiven for their mischief.

As the murder trial of Muff Potter gets underway, Tom is racked by guilt over allowing a man he knows to be innocent to be convicted. On the final day of the trial, Tom is called as a surprise witness, and he proceeds to finger Injun Joe with the crime, who springs out of the window and escapes. Tom and Huck stumble upon Joe and a stranger at a deserted house on the outskirts of town, and learn of a stash of gold Joe is carrying.

Becky Thatcher invites many of the town's children to a picnic. Tom and Becky go wandering in a nearby cave, and get lost. Also in the cave is Injun Joe, hiding out. Just as Tom and Becky lose all hope of finding an exit, Tom finds an opening to safety. Huck and Tom return to the cave, find Joe's treasure, which was hidden in the cave, and become heroes in the town.