I am a huge Mark Twain fan. This literary icon provided us with such brilliant writings. His novels, satire, historical fiction, philosophy, social commentary and quotes all included such splendid touches of wit and substance. William Faulkner once called him the "Father of American Literature," and I certainly concur.
Today, I thought it would be fun to examine a few fun facts about Twain.
- Mark Twain was the pseudonym used by Samuel Langhorne Clemens and it first appeared on February 3, 1863, in a piece he contributed to the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise.
- 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.
On the Mississippi River, 'mark twain' meant 'two fathoms deep.'
- He worked as a printer's apprentice in Hannibal in 1847, and soon after began working at his brother Orion's newspaper.
- From 1853-1856 he worked as a journeyman printer, traveling to St. Louis, New York, and Philadelphia.
- He was a steamboat pilot apprentice on the Mississippi River and eventually earned his pilot's license.
- His wife’s name was Olivia Langdon and they were married for 34 years.
- Olivia and Mark had four children: Susy, Langdon, Clara and Jean Clemens.
- Twain was born (1835) and died (1910) in years in which Halley's Comet passed by earth. In Mark Twain: A Biography, he is quoted as saying, “I came in with Halley's comet in 1835. It's coming again next year (1910), and I expect to go out with it."
- 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.
- In 1867, the novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published.
- In 1884, the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published.
- From 1901 to 1910, in his last years, he worked as the vice president of the American Anti-Imperialist League.
- Twain received an honorary doctorate from Oxford University in 1907.
- To pay off debts accumulated as a result of failed business ventures, Twain toured the world as a lecturer, publishing his experiences in Following the Equator (1897).