This list of 25 interesting facts about Mark Twain was created for personal reasons. But as it turns out, many other people who know and love Mark would love to learn these little bits of knowledge too. So read on.
It would be very hard to find a literature lover who doesn’t know Mark Twain. He is one of the top writers in the history of America. With his humorous and witty writing, he amused thousands of readers all around the globe.
If you are interested in this celebrated author, humorist, and thinker, then this post is for you. Because we are going to share 25 interesting facts about Mark Twain with you in this post.
So, let’s get started…
25 Interesting Facts About Mark Twain
#1 His Real Name
You might already know this that Mark Twain is not actually his real name. Yes, it is his pen name. But his real name was ‘Samuel Langhorne Clemens’. He was born in Florida, Missouri, USA, back in 30th November 1835. We all know Mark Twain as a writer, humorist, and publisher. However, he was also an entrepreneur, businessman, and lecturer.
#2 Some Famous Quotes by Mark Twain
Mark Twain is known for many popular quotes. Here are some of his notable quotes for you…
- ‘Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.’
- ‘It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt.’
- ‘The fear of death follows the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.’
- ‘The secret of getting ahead is getting started.’
- ‘If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.’
#3 His Education
Mark Twain was not fond of former education. When Twain was 11 years old, his father died of pneumonia back in 1847. He left his school for good in the next year while he just finished 5th grade. After that, he never went to get a formal education.
During that time, he worked as an apprentice of a printer. Later in 1851, he started to work as a typesetter for the ‘Hannibal Journal’. Rumor has it, Mark Twain once said ‘Never let schooling interfere with your education’.
#4 His Notion towards Schooling
Mark Twain knew that education was very vital for the growth of a human being. However, he did not like formal education as you know he was not formally educated beyond elementary school.
He considered schooling was not the same as learning and education. Typically, he would read new topics on public libraries when he left school. And, he was very critical of the education system of his time in the USA.
#5 He was a Steamboat Pilot
According to Mark Twain, it was his dream to become a steamboat pilot during his boyhood. Because it was one of the most prestigious jobs and the salary was also very high compared to other jobs at the moment. As a result, he admitted under ‘Horace E. Bixby’, a famous steamboat pilot, for learning to be a steamboat pilot.
For that, he had to pay 500 USD which is about 15 thousand dollars in current time from his first wage upon his graduation. After 2 years of training, he received the pilot’s license.
#6 He was a Student of Parapsychology
While he was working as a steamboat pilot, he brought his younger brother to work with him. Both of them were working on the steamboat named ‘Pennsylvania’.
It was 13th June 1858, the boiler of the steamboat exploded. Unfortunately, Mark Twain’s younger brother ‘Henry’ was severely injured and died a few days later because of this accident.
Eventually, Twain took it very hard and blamed himself for his brother’s demise. He also claimed that he foresaw his brother’s death in his dream a month earlier. And, this incident intrigued him about parapsychology. He even joined and was one of the early members of the famous ‘Society for Psychical Research’.
#7 He Went Bankrupt
Twain earned a lot of money through his writings and lectures. Eventually, he went and invested them in many interesting ventures. Unfortunately, he was a bad investor and businessman.
Matter of fact, he lost most of his money in bad investments. One of his notable investment failures was to invest in the ‘Paige Compositor’.
This was a mechanical typesetter. However, it was very complex to use. As a result, it was a flop. Later, he even filed for bankruptcy. Thanks to ‘Henry Huttleston Rogers’, who helped Mark Twain during his financial setbacks to bounce back from bankruptcy.
#8 His Popular Writings
Mark Twain has written fiction, novels, non-fiction, short stories, and so on in his lifetime. A plethora of his works is popular all around the world. Here are some of the most notable literary works of Mark Twain.
- The Innocents Abroad: It is a travel book. This book was published in 1869.
- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: This is the most popular book by Mark Twain. This novel was published back in 1884.
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: This is another novel written by Mark Twain. It was published in 1876.
- The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County: It was a short story published back in 1865. This brought Mark Twain his initial success as a writer.
- The War Prayer: This short story was written in 1905. However, according to his wish, it was not published until his death. Later, it was published in 1916 after the death of Mark Twain.
#9 Mark Twain’s View on Religion
Reportedly, Mark Twain was a follower of Presbyterianism. It is known that he was very critical of organized religions. However, he kept away from publishing his opinions on religious beliefs and religions during his lifetime.
In fact, many of his anti-religious writings were suppressed by his family to keep him away from controversy. Some of the most notable ones are the ‘Letters from The Earth’ and ‘The Mysterious Stranger’, and ‘Little Bessie’, etc. Gradually, most of those writings were published after his death.
#10 His Various Pen Names
We have already told you that ‘Mark Twain’ was his pen name. Interestingly, it was not his first pen name in reality. He used ‘Josh’ as his pen name until 1863.
He also used ‘Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass’ as his pen name in some of his published works. Finally, he started to use his famous pen name ‘Mark Twain’. And, he published almost all of his popular works under this pen name after that.
#11 He Tried Mining
Mark Twain tried his luck in mining as well. He worked as a miner on the renowned ‘Comstock Lode’, a famous lode of silver ore, in Virginia City. However, he was not successful in mining. So, he left the place and joined a local newspaper company named ‘Territorial Enterprise’ as a writer.
#12 He was an Avid Traveler
Mark Twain is known for traveling all over the world. Matter of fact, many of his travel-stories are based on his experience in traveling to various countries around the globe. He traveled to different parts of America.
He visited the Middle East, India, Australia, Canada, and many countries in Europe in his lifetime. He was also renowned as a featured speaker. So, he visited many countries as a paid speaker as well.
#13 He was a Cat Person
Mark Twain loved cats. It is reported that at least 2 cats would accompany him during his adult life. It is rumored that he might have had up to 19 cats as a pet with him at one point in his lifetime.
#14 Inspiration of Twain’s Writings
Mark Twain and his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri during his childhood. And he grew up there near the bank of the Mississippi River.
Interestingly, this particular time of his life was the inspiration for writing his most popular books such as ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ and ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’. He claimed that the popular character ‘Huckleberry Finn’ was based on one of his boyhood friends named ‘Tom Blankenship’.
#15 Mark Twain and Innovative Technology
Twain was very fond of technological revolutions. He loved new innovative technologies. It is known that he was one of the first people in the USA to have a telephone installed in his home. He was also one of the pioneers in using a typewriter to write books in history.
#16 The Beginning of Mark Twain as A Writer
Twain was not into writing from his childhood. At first, he used to work on the ‘Hannibal Journal’ as a typesetter. His elder brother ‘Orion Clemens’ bought this journal in 1850. That means he would work under his brother.
Over time, he began to write a few articles here and there. He would also produce some sketches that were published in the journal. Since then, he started to write on a regular basis.
#17 Mark Twain’s Autobiography
The last work of Mark Twain in his lifetime was his autobiography. He wrote this in non-chronological order to make it entertaining. After publishing the original, several compilers and archivists have tried to rearrange the biography in chronological order.
The interesting thing about his autobiography is that Twain wanted it to be published after 100 years of his death. According to his wish, the book was published in November 2010. Soon enough, it became one of the best-selling books of the 21st century.
#18 Twain and Exclamation Mark
Mark Twain was not a fan of exclamation marks. He published an essay named ‘How To Tell A Story’ in 1895, where he said using exclamation mark is similar to laughing at your own jokes. As a result, he discouraged writers to use exclamation marks.
#19 His Love of Science and Discoveries
Mark Twain was intrigued by science and technology. Matter of fact, he even patented 3 inventions in his lifetime. Among them, his most successful invention was a ‘self-pasting scrapbook’. He sold more than 25 thousand of these ‘self-pasting scrapbook’. However, other inventions of him were not that successful.
#20 Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla
One of Mark Twain’s close friends was Nikola Tesla. Yes, we are talking about the well-recognized inventor, scientist, and futurist Nikola Tesla. Both of them shared interest in science and technology.
As a result, they have become close friends. In fact, Mark Twain would visit the Tesla Laboratory frequently. And both of them would spend a lot of time together working on new inventions.’
#21 Fingerprinting and Mark Twain
‘Fingerprinting’ is one of the most commonly used methods in forensic science nowadays. But it was Mark Twain, who actually proposed ‘Fingerprinting’ to be used as a forensic technique.
He used ‘Fingerprinting’ as a key plot in one of his novels named ‘Pudd’nhead Wilson’. He also featured this technique in the ‘Life on the Mississippi’ ages ago.
#22 Mark Twain and Thomas Edison
Mark Twain was also a good friend of ‘Thomas Alva Edison’, the famous inventor.
Edison used to visit Twain from time to time. At one point in 1909, while Twain was living in Redding, Connecticut, Thomas Edison came to visit him. During his visit, Edison filmed Mark Twain. And as of right now, this is the only known video footage of Mark Twain available still today.
#23 Some Funny Mark Twain Quotes
Mark Twain is known for witty, humorous, and funny quotes. And, we cannot end this post without sharing some of his best funny yet wise quotes. So, here we go…
- ‘A lie can run around the world six times while the truth is still trying to put on its pants.’
- ‘All generalizations are false, including this one.’
- ‘A human being has a natural desire to have more of a good thing than he needs.’
- ‘If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.’
- ‘Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.’
#24 The Father of American Literature
Mark Twain is known for his literary works worldwide. He is also considered the father of American literature. Added to that, he is known as the greatest humorist the USA has ever produced.
Many critics refer to his famous book ‘Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ as the ‘First Great American Novel’. Once, ‘Ernest Hemmingway’ wrote about that particular book saying that ‘All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn’.
#25 Halley’s Comet and Mark Twain
Halley’s Comet is a noteworthy comet that cone close to Earth every 75 to 76 years. Mark Twain was born 2 weeks after this comet came in close proximity to Earth in 1835. According to that, the comet would be visible from Earth again in 1910.
Interestingly, Twain said in 1909 that he came with Halley’s Comet and he would go out with it next year while it will arrive again. He also stated that it would be his life’s greatest disappointment if he could not go out with the comet.
Surprisingly, the prediction of Twain was accurate. He died due to a heart attack on 21st April 1910. It was 1 day after Halley’s Comet returned closer to Earth.
Summing it Up:
Samuel Langhorne Clemens aka Mark Twain is an influential figure. He taught, educated, and entertained readers all around the world with his writings. However, his life was full of ups and downs.
Yet, he shared his wisdom with the world to make the world a better place with his works. We hope, you have enjoyed this piece of interesting facts about Mark Twain. If you have had, then you can read our post on facts about Bill Gates.
You will definitely enjoy reading that. And, if you have any queries or opinions, you can leave them in the comments below!