Interesting Facts About Mark Twain

There are many interesting facts about Mark Twain. Born Samuel Clemens, the author was an internationally celebrated lecturer who traveled the world, held some very modern ideas and lost a fortune on failed investments.

  • Twain's birth name is Samuel Langhorne Clemens
  • Clemens wrote under several pseudonyms before settling on Mark Twain. He also wrote as Sergeant Fathom, Rambler, Thomas Jefferson Snondgrass and W. Epaminondas Adrastus Blab. Some of his earliest writings are simply credited to Josh.
  • Haley's Comet was visible in the sky on the night Mark Twain was born. He predicted that he would die when it returned 75 years later. Clemens died on April 21, 1910, the day after the comet's orbit came closest to the Earth.
  • 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.
  • As a teenager, Twain worked as a printer's apprentice. He fell in love with the technology and would later lose $300,000 investing in a new style of printing press.
  • At age 22, Clemens was encouraged to become a steamboat pilot by Horace Bixby. Clemens studied for two years before getting his license. As a steamboat pilot, he earned about $200 a month. He piloted steamboats until the civil war began.
  • 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.
  • Clemens was married to Olivia Langdon for 34 years, until her death in 1904. They had four children. 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.
  • Twain served during the American Civil War. He formed a confederate militia group known as the Marion Rangers, which disbanded after two weeks. Although Twain is known as a supporter of abolition and women's suffrage, these views did not take hold until his later years.
  • The name Mark Twain comes from a nautical term used by riverboat pilots on the Mississippi. Mark Twain indicated a water depth of 12 feet, the minimum for riverboats to navigate safely.
  • An article written in 1863 for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise was the first published piece to use the Twain pseudonym.
  • Twain published 30 books over the course of his career
  • Huckleberry Finn, according to the American Library Association (ALA), is one of the most frequent targets for removal from public libraries. The book dropped off the ALA's top 10 challenged books list in 2008.
  • In 1907, Mark Twain received a Doctorate in Letters from Oxford University.
  • 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.

 

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