Mark Twain to make an appearance on Saturday

MANALAPAN, NJ – Meet the man who Norman Rockwell made famous as a young Tom Sawyer – and meet the “author” who created the character – both at the Monmouth County Library Headquarters, 125 Symmes Dr., Manalapan, on Saturday, April 17.

As a young boy in New Rochelle, N.Y., Richard Gregory modeled for Rockwell, whose drawings graced a specially commissioned 1935 edition of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  Gregory now lives in Freehold. Beginning 11 a.m. on April 17, Gregory will share an illustrated lecture of his experiences and adventures as Rockwell’s neighbor and model.

And speaking of Mark Twain, the author – as portrayed by storyteller Charles Kiernan – will regale attendees with witty tales and lively anecdotes at the library at 1 p.m. April 17. “Twain” is wont to ramble on about his boyhood memories, the newspaper publishing business, life on the Mississippi River – and frogs.

Both Kiernan and Gregory will appear as part of the Monmouth County Library System’s “In with a Comet, Out with a Comet” series commemorating the 100th anniversary of Twain's death and National Library Week.

Twain famously noted: “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year and I expect to go out with it.” His prediction came true, as he died at the age of 74 on April 21, 1910, one day after the passing of Halley’s Comet.

Kiernan says the intent of his one-man show is to give the audience a bit of Twain’s biography, humor and viewpoint. The subject for his talk is his evolving view on what is man. “Twain” illustrates his view by recounting his personal history. A question-and-answer session will follow the talk.

Kiernan, self-described as “now retired from gainful employment,” performs as Twain at theaters, listening clubs, schools, libraries and arts festivals. He is also coordinator for the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild, Pennsylvania State Representative for the National Youth Storytelling Showcase, Pennsylvania State Liaison for the National Storytelling Network and recipient of the 2008 Individual Artist Award from the Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission.

Patrons can select a book by Mark Twain from one of the Library’s branch-wide book displays to help celebrate National Book Week from April 11-17.

Also, sign up for the Library’s Mark Twain trivia question contest and win one of 12 copies (one at each county library branch) of “1001 Historic Sites You Must See Before You Die,” edited by Richard Cavendish. To wine, correctly answering this question:

In what U.S. city and state did Samuel Langhorne Clemens first use his famous pen name, Mark Twain?

One winner will be selected for each branch from the correct responses. Drawings will be held on April 30. For more information, please call 732-431-7220, or visit the library Web site at

“The Monmouth County Library System is a treasure,” said Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the county library. “It’s more than a building with shelves of books; it is a window to the world. I urge everyone to visit the county library and take advantage of all it has to offer.”

The county library headquarters is located in Manalapan. Libraries with branch status in the county system currently include the Eastern Branch in Shrewsbury, Allentown, Colts Neck, Hazlet, Holmdel, Howell, Marlboro, Ocean Township, Oceanport and Wall.

Towns with member status of the county library system include Atlantic Highlands, Brielle, Eatontown, Fair Haven, Interlaken, Keansburg, Little Silver, Manasquan, Monmouth Beach, Neptune City, Oceanic (Rumson), Sea Bright, Sea Girt, Tinton Falls, Union Beach and West Long Branch.

Residents of towns that are not members or branches of the county library system who would like to have borrowing privileges at county libraries may purchase a county library card annually at a cost of $100.