Charles Harrington Elster Comes to TwainFest

August 2, 2011

–Well-Known Author and Word-Expert Will Participate in the All-Day, Free Event in Old Town Aug. 20 —

Charles Harrington Elster will be performing at TwainFest on Aug. 20.

Charles Harrington Elster, local author of the popular vocabulary-building program Verbal Advantage and originator of the weekly public radio talk show “A Way With Words,” will be performing for his second year at TwainFest, a free literary festival for all ages. The author will appear in several venues of the free event in Old Town on Aug. 20 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Elster’s first performance will take place in the historic courtroom of The Whaley House at 11:30 a.m.  At 4 p.m., he will deliver a talk about Mark Twain in the Seeley Stable Theatre in the state park. Elster will also be available for book signing.

In addition to speeches by Charles Harrington Elster, TwainFest will feature abbreviated Shakespeare by Cygnet Theatre’s “Storytellers on the Green."

Elster has been a guest contributor to the “On Language” column of The New York Times Magazine and his articles have appeared in the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune.  Some of his books include “Test of Time,” a time-travel story which features Mark Twain, and “The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations,” which the late William Safire of The New York Times hailed as “the best survey of the spoken field in years.”

TwainFest is an all-day festival that celebrates Mark Twain and other popular writers of the 19th century. Presented by Write Out Loud, Fiesta de Reyes and Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, TwainFest will utilize venues throughout the state park. Performances and activities will also be given at the Whaley House Museum.

TwainFest will also feature a literary tea at the Casa de Estudillo, “Twain For Kids” in the Seeley Stable Theatre, a 19th century literary séance, abbreviated Shakespeare by Cygnet Theatre’s “Storytellers on the Green,” puppetry on the Fiesta de Reyes stage and musicians on the Plaza Palladium.  Other family-fare includes the Mark Twain Quotation Machine, antique printing press demonstrations, The Great Moon Hoax of 1835,  the election of 1872 (literacy tests included!), and old San Diego’s version of the Pony Express.

TwainFest games include Fish for Words, Chortle This!, Telegraph Crunch,  a 19th Century Spelling Bee, and a community-wide “NeverEnding Story” to which anyone may contribute.

Period lawn games include sack races, marbles, ring toss and a variation on the Calaveras County Frog Jumping Contest.  Everyone who engages in an activity will get a ticket which can be redeemed for free book at the TwainFest Book Emporium.

Authentic music of the early 19th century including frontier instruments and songs will be demonstrated in the Mormon Battalion Living History booth located on the plaza.

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park is at San Diego Avenue and Twiggs Street in San Diego and is conveniently located next to the Old Town Transit Center, with Coaster, trolley, and MTS bus service.  The Whaley House Museum is located on the corner of San Diego Avenue and Harney Street just two blocks from the entrance to the state park.  For more information about TwainFest, visit or call 619-297-8953.

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