Birth Name: Samuel Langhorne Clemens
Pseudonym: Josh, Mark Twain, Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass
Born: November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri
Died: April 21, 1910 in Redding, Connecticut
Time Period: Victorian
Expertise: Editor, Entrepreneur, Essayist, Freemason, Humorist, Journalist, Letter Writer, Novelist, Orator, Playwright, Poet, Publisher, Satorist, Short Story Writer
Known For: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and the Pauper
Interesting quotes by Mark Twain
“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”
“Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.”
“Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.”
“The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.”
“Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.”
“Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”
“Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.”
“We have the best government that money can buy.”
“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”
“Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”
“She was not quite what you would call refined. She was not quite what you would call unrefined. She was the kind of person that keeps a parrot.”
A brief biography of Mark Twain
Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri. Clemens assumed two other pseudonyms before he settled on Mark Twain, they were “Josh” and “Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass”—the latter two were used in humorous writings and sketches. Twain was not only a novelist, but is known as the greatest humorist, and was highly sought after to deliver lectures during his life. He also patented a few inventions and was a publisher for his own company, Charles L. Webster and Company. Twain’s best works are considered to be The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Twain was born into a family of seven children, him being the sixth. At the age of four, his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, a town near the Mississippi River that influenced his books, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, in which he created the town of St. Petersburg. When Mark Twain was eleven, his father died. A year after, Twain ceased his education in the fifth grade and became a printer’s apprentice. His older brother, Orion, owned a newspaper called the Hannibal Journal, and that’s when Twain started work as a typesetter. He wrote articles and provided amusing sketches to the Hannibal Journal. At the age of eighteen, Twain left Hannibal, Missouri and worked as a printer in various cities—New York City, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Philadelphia, and was part of the Typographical Union. Even though Twain ended his formal education, he never stopped learning, and educated himself with books from public libraries.
In 1867, Mark Twain was on a trip to the Mediterranean, funded by a local newspaper. On this trip, he met his future brother-in-law, Charles Langdon. Charles showed Twain a picture of his sister, Olivia, and once Twain returned from his trip they began exchanging letters. Olivia didn’t want to marry Mark, so she rejected his first proposal, but in 1870, the couple got married in Elmira, New York. At first, they lived in Buffalo, New York where Twain worked as an editor and writer for the Buffalo Express. After the birth and death of an infant son, they had their first daughter. Twain then decided he was going to move the family to Hartford, Connecticut and begin building his home—which is now a museum and historical landmark. The couple welcomed two more daughters into their family over the next few years. Twain’s family would spend their summers at Quarry Farm in Elmira, which belonged to his sister-in-law, Susan Crane. Since Twain was a consistent cigar smoker, Susan had built an addition on the summer home so her brother-in-law would have a peaceful and silent place to write and smoke—since she didn’t want him smoking in the main house. Between living in Hartford and summering in Elmira, Twain wrote his best novels, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The Prince and the Pauper.
In 1884, Twain established Charles L. Webster and Company, a publishing firm. He wasn’t happy with his previous publisher and wanted to earn double the income as both an author and a publisher. Twain published Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in 1885 for a second time—it was first published in 1884 in London, England. Twain’s firm also published authors like Walt Whitman and Leo Tolstoy. Unfortunately, after a decade of production, Twain was forced to declare bankruptcy. His brother-in-law—whom the company was named after—didn’t do a good job of maintaining the business. Twain tried to save his publishing firm but ultimately had to shut it down in 1894.
Mark Twain was mesmerized by science and inventions. He even patented some of his very own, including a replacement for suspenders. His most successful patent, selling over twenty-five thousand, was a a self-adhering scrapbook, where pages just had to be slightly moistened before using. Also in regard to his love of science, Twain close bond with scientific genius Nikola Tesla. They had a deep and longstanding friendship, and he spent a lot of time with Tesla is his laboratory. Some photographs of the two men in Tesla’s lab still exist.
Twain was an excellent speaker and it made him highly favored and sought after. His talks were often very humorous, resembling a modern day comedy show. He delivered them in many places, such as the Author’s Club, Vagabonds, and White Friars. Twain also traveled internationally, and in 1895 he was part of a world lecture tour. He was even regarded as a special guest when he spoke to the Concord Press Club in Vienna. He also gave a speech titled The Horrors of the German Language, in Germany, and managed to keep the audience engaged and thoroughly amused. Twain also spoke at Princeton University’s Cliosophic Literary Society in 1901 and was dignified as an honorary member.
Mark Twain spent his latter years living on West 10th Street in New York City. Prior to that, in 1896, his daughter, Susy, had died from meningitis. In 1904 his wife, Olivia, died from heart failure. Before her death, Olivia’s health started to decline, and under doctor’s orders she was to keep distance from her husband so she wouldn’t get too excited. Twain disregarded the advice and secretly visited his wife often. He would bring her letters he wrote and give her kisses. A year before her death, the doctor suggested Olivia move to Italy for the more mild climate, which she did. Olivia eventually died in Italy. Five years later, another daughter of Twain’s died in their Connecticut home on Christmas Eve morning. She had drowned in the tub after suffering a seizure. The deaths of his wife and daughter put Twain into a deep depression, and he would die only four months after his daughter in 1910.
In 1906, Mark Twain established a club called “Angel Fish and Aquarium Club”. It was a club for girls whom he thought of as like granddaughters. There were about a dozen girls that were part of the group and they would write letters back and fourth with Twain who even welcomed them to come play games, attend concerts and theater. In 1907, he was presented with an honorary doctorate in letters from Oxford University. Twain recounted in 1908, calling the club his “life’s chief delight.”
Mark Twain was born two weeks after Halley’s Comet. He stated in 1909: “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.’” Twain did as he promised, and he followed the comet one day after its approach, dying on April 21, 1910 in Redding, Connecticut. The cause of his death was a heart attack. He was 74 years old.
Twain’s funeral was held at Brick Presbyterian Church on Fifth Ave in New York and he was buried in Elmira, New York next to his wife in her family’s plot at Woodlawn Cemetery. Though he wished to be cremated, he approved the wishes of his surviving family, his daughter Clara, who would have the final say as to the burial arrangements.
Today his house in Hartford, Connecticut—as well as his childhood home in Hannibal, Missouri—are museums honoring Twain. Both are national historical landmarks. There’s an award given out annually in his name called the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, for those that have had a humorous effect similar to Twain. Recipients include Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Lorne Michaels, Steve Martin, Neil Simon, Bill Murray and many more. Ernest Hemingway once said in 1935, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn, it’s the best book we’ve had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.”
Works by Mark Twain
Download free Mark Twain books. Listen to Mark Twain audiobooks.
External Links for Mark Twain
Mark Twain on Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Twain
Mark Twain on Wikisourcehttps://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Author:Samuel_Langhorne_Clemens
See other authors of the Victorian period
- Emilio Aguinaldo
- Ethel Lynn Beers
- Madison Cawein
- Mortimer Collins
- James David Corrothers
- Eugene Debs
- Frederick Douglass
- Paul Laurence Dunbar
- Thomas Hardy
- Henry Wilmarth Hazzen
- William Hope Hodgson
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- Edgar Allan Poe
- Robert Louis Stevenson
- Bram Stoker
- Alfred, Lord Tennyson
- August Vogel
- Walt Whitman
- John Greenleaf Whittier
- Oscar Wilde
- Kaiser Wilhelm II