“Mark Twain” was born on February 3, 1863 – in Virginia city, when he first signed his name as Mark Twain, instead of Samuel Langhorne Clemens the name he was given upon his birth on November 30, 1835.
I am happy to present the caricature of Mark Twain, the man who is often called the father of American literature. Perhaps he’s best known for his work “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”
A Short Account of Mark Twain’s Life (A biography?)
Twain was born the seventh child of a merchant in Missouri. In those times, about a 150 years ago, it was common that many children didn’t survive their childhoods – four of Mark Twain’s siblings didn’t.
While going through Twain’s biography, I was shocked to discover how chequered his career was and how he was unsuccessful at most of the things that he tried to do – except of course, writing – and the fact that he didn’t write professionally for a very long time.
Twain began working when he was 18 and his first job was that of a typesetter for a newspaper called the Hannibal Journal. As it often happened in those days too, family ties helped when it came to finding a job. This newspaper was owned by Twain’s brother Orion. For the next four years, Twain educated himself through the public libraries.
For reasons that I can’t fathom, Twain returned to Missouri and became a riverboat pilot. Why? If I were to make an intelligent guess, it could’ve been because the pay was good, or even because the job was just right for the adventurer. I don’t know. Perhaps he’s left a clue in his autobiography.
Twain must’ve realized that as a writer it would be difficult for him to get paid for his work. Well, I guess Twain must’ve also felt indebted to his elder brother who gave him the typesetter’s job, so he thought that he should do the same for his younger brother (one act of nepotism begets another) and so he convinced his younger brother to become a steamboat pilot too. Unfortunately, the younger brother died in a steamboat explosion – Twain thus, lived with regret the remainder of his life.
Anyway, Twain continued working as a Steamboat pilot until 1861 – but he couldn’t stop writing. However, he first won national acclaim in 1965, when his humorous short story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” was published in a New York weekly. (I guess one needs to be proficient in English to understand the story – because I couldn’t.)
Twain married at the age of 33 and remained married for 34 years to the same lady (Olivia) until her death. (Those were the good old days.)
Mark Twain’s Autobiography
Twain wrote his autobiography (part fiction and part facts) and then didn’t allow it to be published for a 100 years. It was eventually published in 2010 – a 100 years after his death. Read a review of his autobiography and the story of its publication.
Mark Twain’s Premonitions
Twain was an extremely intuitive man. As the paranormalists would tell us, the artistic kinds are extremely vulnerable to stuff like “looking into the future”, “talking to the dead”, and other things tagged spiritual. So Twain foresaw his younger brother’s death a month, and his own, a year in advance. I wish he had said something about the Apocalypse too, but I guess he didn’t or Hollywood had made a movie about it.
In 1909, Twain said,
“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.”
Mark Twain’s Writings
Twain’s most famous books were written during his later years. Some of these are:
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876),
- The Prince and the Pauper (1881),
- Life on the Mississippi (1883), and
- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) !
You can find the complete list of his books here and also here.
Mark Twain would’ve been a billionaire had he not been squandering away his fortune in the pursuit of science. The gentleman with the mustaches was in love with technology – and he always thought that technology would make him rich. He invented a few things, he made friends with Tesla (Remember that arcane thing called electromagnetism?) hoping to pick up a few things from him. Twain even invented a typesetting machine – but it all came to a naught. Rather, it robbed him of his earnings from writing and he went bankrupt!
Mark Twain left instructions that his autobiography shouldn’t be published until 100 years after his death. Read about this whim of his in this News-story here.
Well…it’s said that he had become “extremely” close to Isabel Van Kleek Lyon, who had become his secretary after his wife’s Olivia’s death (check out some interesting facts here.) However, in his final years he had begun to feel that Ms. Lyon was a “slut” and that she was after his money. (Now anyone with even an iota of common sense would know that a young woman – okay middle-aged even, would be attracted to a seventy-year old man only if he had money. Ever heard of a rich young heiress falling in love with a seventy-year old beggar?! )