Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mark Twain Biography

Mark Twain (1835-1910)

v     He is one of America's most famous writers and humorists. William Faulkner called him The Father of American Literature.
v     His real name was Samuel Clemens. Mark Twain was his pen name. "Mark twain!" is what riverboat sailors would shout, when the water was deep enough for the boat to pass safely.

v     Other pen names he used early on were Grumbler, Rumbler, and Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass.
v     He's most famous for his novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and its sequel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
v     His first successful one was "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." He became known for his newspaper stories as The Humorist of the Pacific Slope.
v     In 1867 he visited Europe and the Holy Land. He wrote about everything he saw in his book The Innocents Abroad.
v     Moving to Connecticut, Twain became friends with abolitionists and feminists like Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, and the socialist, William Howells.
v     He also became a close friend of Nikola Tesla, spending time in his laboratory.
v     Twain was a very popular public speaker, doing what would later be known as stand up comedy. In Vienna, he gave a speech in German, titled "The Horrors of the German Language".
v     He also wrote The Prince And The Pauper, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

v     He received an honorary degree from Oxford University and two from Yale University.

Personal Life:

Mark Twain was born soon after the passing of Halley's Comet, and died the day after it returned, just as he'd predicted. He 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.' "
He was the sixth of seven children, but only four survived to adulthood. His father was a judge, and died of pneumonia when Mark was eleven. As a teen he worked for a printer, and wrote articles for his older brother's newspaper, The Hannibal Journal. He travelled to NYC, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Cincinnati, working as a printer. He also tried jobs as a riverboat pilot and a miner.
According to Twain, being a riverboat pilot was every child's dream. The pilot had to, "get up a warm personal acquaintanceship with every old snag and one-limbed cottonwood and every obscure wood pile that ornaments the banks of this river for twelve hundred miles; and more than that, must ... actually know where these things are in the dark..."
Mark convinced his younger brother, Henry, to work on a riverboat as well. When Henry's boat exploded, killing him, Mark never forgave himself. He even forsaw the event in a dream months before, starting his interest in parapsychology.
Changing careers to journalism, he began writing short stories. While travelling to the Holy Land, he met his future brother-in-law, who showed a photo of his sister, Olivia Langdon. "It was love at first sight." He courted the woman for years, and they married in 1870.

Famous Quotes:

"Books of the great geniuses are like wine. My books are like water. Everybody drinks water."

"Humor is mankind's greatest blessing."

"To succeed in life you need two things: ignorance and confidence."

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."

"The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer somebody else up."

"Get your facts first. Then you can distort them as you please."

"The lack of money is the root of all evil."

"The main difference between a cat and a lie is that a cat only has nine lives."

"We have the best government that money can buy."

"Man is the only animal that blushes - or needs to."

"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."

"It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense."

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is tie to pause and reflect."

"Faith is believing what you know ain't so."

"If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be—a Christian."