50 Facts About Mark Twain

As a teenager I just devoured Mark Twain books. I loved The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and the Prince and the Pauper. All of which I read dozens of time each. What a notion that our doppledanger may be royalty and more than that, a prince. So for my entertainment and yours, here are '50 Facts' that you may not know about Mark Twain followed by my favorite Twain quotes:

1. Prior to adopting Mark Twain as his pen name, Clemens wrote under the pen name Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass for three humorous pieces he contributed to The Keokuk Post.

2. On the Mississippi River, 'mark twain' meant 'two fathoms deep.'

3. Twain was very interested in parapsychology.

4. Mark Twain was fond of cats. His boyhood home is rumored to have been shared with as many as 19 cats. As an adult, Twain always kept at least two cats around.

5. Haley's Comet was visible in the sky on the night that Mark Twain was both born and passed away.

6. Clemens encouraged his younger brother, Henry, to get a job as a steamboat pilot as well. Henry was killed when the boiler on board his boat exploded. Clemens claimed to have seen his brother's death in a dream before it happened, sparking an interest in parapsychology.

7. Mark Twain was said to have been working on a ghost story right before his death. No one ever found it for he ordered all his manuscripts burned when he died.

8. Twain was a Thomas Edison manque. Three of his inventions were patented: an automatically self-adjusting vest strap, a history game meant for improving memory, and a self-pasting scrapbook--the only one ever to make him any money.

9. Twain was known for his stance against racism and for supporting the abolition of slavery, but he was oddly prejudiced against Native Americans.

10. He was also critical of organized religion, and very much in favor of labor unions. He also belonged to the Freemasons.

11. Hannibal, Mo. served as the inspiration for the fictional town of St. Petersberg in "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."

12. Mark twain has also written about five travelogues which are about the experience of Mark Twain during his visit between Western US and Asia.

13. In 1856, he moved to Cincinnati, where he hatched a plan to travel to South America to collect coca leaves. Instead he decided to work on a steamboat.

14. He was a passenger on the first "luxury cruise" to Europe and the Holy Land, and related the party's misadventures in letters to the New York Tribune and the Herald. He later worked these reports into his first book, The Innocents Abroad, which became an immense success.

15. Twain was a successful lecturer, generating money and fame via speaking tours throughout the United States and Europe.

16. He was a steamboat pilot apprentice on the Mississippi River and eventually earned his pilot's license.

17. Twain was six in a lineup of seven children. Only he and two others (brother Orion and sister Pamela) survived into adulthood.

18. Twain suffered from color blindness.

19. As a child, Twain learned to swim in Hannibal’s dangerous Bear Creek. He witnessed the drowning of two friends in this creek.

20. During the Civil War, Twain formed a Confederate militia known as the "Marion Rangers." The militia disbande

d after approximately two weeks.

21. One of Twain’s biggest literary influences was The Arabian Nights. His later work would often allude to the tales.

22. Twain also greatly admired the poet Robert Browning he later met in 1873.

23. Twain was actually in New Orleans the day that Louisiana declared its succession from the Union.

24. From 1901 until his death in 1910, Twain was vice president of the American Anti-Imperialist League.

25. Twain was known for his anti-slavery views well before they came into fashion. However, some of his work, like Huckleberry Finn, has been termed racist for its use of derogatory terms.

26. His wife’s name was Olivia Langdon and they were married for 34 years.

27. Olivia and Mark had four children: Susy, Langdon, Clara and Jean Clemens.

28. Their son Langdon died of diptheria at the age of 19 months. His daughter Suzy and Jean both died in their 20s. Clemens' surviving daughter, Clara, lived until 1962 and had a daughter of her own who died childless. There are no direct heirs to Clemens surviving today.

29. Twain dined with Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1892 while traveling through Europe.

30. Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is considered to be one of the first science fiction books ever published. Twain had a keen interest in science and technology and was a close friend of Dr. Nikola Tesla.

31. In 1867 Twain developed a serious enjoyment of billiards. He enjoyed the game for the rest of his life.

32. After his short stint in the Civil War, Twain moved to Nevada and worked as a miner.

33. In 1868 Twain met Harriet Beecher Stowe.

34. Twain gave Anne Sullivan the label “miracle worker” for her work with Helen Keller.

35. Bermuda was the last foreign locale Twain visited before he died.

36. Twain’s first important work was The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, originally published in the New York Saturday Press on November 18, 1865. The only reason it was published there was because his story arrived too late to be included in a book that Artemus Ward was compiling, featuring sketches of the wild American West.

37. The character of Huckleberry Finn was modeled after Twain's boyhood friend Tom Blankenship. "He was ignorant, unwashed, insufficiently fed; but he had as good a heart as ever any boy had," Twain wrote of Blankenship in his autobiography. "His liberties were totally unrestricted. He was the only really independent person—boy or man—in the community, and by consequence he was tra

nquilly and continuously happy and envied by the rest of us. And as his society was forbidden us by our parents the prohibition trebled and quadrupled its value, and therefore we sought and got more of his society than any other boy's."

38. Twain's father died of pneumonia when Mark was 12. At 13 he began working for his brother Orion as an apprentice printer. It was here that he discovered a love for writing.

39. Twain first donned his famous white suit in 1906, when he appeared before Congress to testify about copyright law. On what may have been a slow news day, the New York Times carried a headline the ne

xt day proclaiming "Mark Twain in White Amuses Congressmen." He wore a white suit from then on, arguing that "light-colored clothing is more pleasing to the eye and enlivens the spirit." He called it his "dontcareadam suit," because he didn't care a damn what he looked like when he wore it.

40. Twain had no problem ridiculing and attacking those he didn't like. One of his most famous literary targets was James Fenimore Cooper, who he wrote about in his essay, "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses".

41. Twain's wife Livy Clemens disliked his habit of swearing, and he tried to keep it from her. One day when he was dressing alone, he realized that his shirt was missing a button and went off on a blue streak. To his horror, he realized that his wife was listening behind the door. In her prim voice, she repeated his words to him as a reprimand.

42. Twain received an honorary doctorate from Oxford University in 1907.

43. Twain often made bad investments, which resulted in serious financial problems.

44. William Faulkner called him “the father of American literature”.

45. One of Mark Twains closest friends were Henry Rogers.

46. Twain was a redhead in his youth.

47. The classical huckleberry finn has the honor of being as the fifth often challenged book by american library association.

48. Mark Twain did not graduate elementary school.

49. It was Mark twain who first used the fingerprinting evidence to solve a crime in one of his fictional novels, “Life on the Mississippi”.

50. Mark Twain died of a heart attack April 21st 1910, in Redding Connecticut.


"A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read."

"Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often."

"Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

"All generalizations are false, including this one."

"'Classic.' A book which people praise and don't read."

"Climate is what we expect,weather is what we get."

"Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I've done it thousands of times."

"Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry."

"My books are like water; those of the great geniuses are wine. (Fortunately) everybody drinks water."

"Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very"; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."

"When your friends begin to flatter you on how young you look, it's a sure sign you're getting old."

"Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been."


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Unknown said...

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Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

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Unknown said...

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

How do I cite this????

Unknown said...

MLA Documentation for A Listserv, Discussion Group, or Blog Posting

Cite Web postings as you would a standard Web entry. Provide the author of the work, the title of the posting in quotation marks, the Web site name in italics, the publisher, and the posting date. Follow with the medium of publication and the date of access. Include screen names as author names when author name is not known. If both names are known, place the author’s name in brackets. Remember if the publisher of the site is unknown, use the abbreviation n.p. See examples below:

Editor, screen name, author, or compiler name (if available). “Posting Title.” Name of Site. Version number (if available). Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher). Medium of publication. Date of access.

Salmar1515 [Sal Hernandez]. “Re: Best Strategy: Fenced Pastures vs. Max Number of Rooms?” BoardGameGeek. BoardGameGeek, 29 Sept. 2008. Web. 5 Apr. 2009.

John King said...

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Anonymous said...

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