Mark Twain is one of the most beloved authors of all time. Over 100 years after his works were first published, they are still being read and enjoyed today. From The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to King Leopold's Soliloquy, Mark Twain delights us with wildly exciting tales encompassing humor and drama, celebrations and tragedy, that often mirrored his own life. Here are a few little known facts about the life of Mark Twain.
1.) It is widely know that Mark Twain is a pseudonym, or pen name, for Samuel Clemens. Some other pseudonyms he wrote under are Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass, W. Epaminondas Adrastus Blab, Rambler, and Sergeant Fathom.
2.) Mark Twain was born in November of 1835, right around the time Halley's Comet was visible in the skies. Twain believed that he would die upon the comet's return. In 1909 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." Sure enough, Twain passed away of a heart attack in April of 1910, the day after Halley's Comet made its closest pass.
3.) Known for having great common sense and wit, Mark Twain was not a traditionally educated man. At 11 years of age, he lost his father to pneumonia, and quit school to become a printer's apprentice. Throughout his life, Mark believed in self-education through life experiences and reading at the library. In 1907, Twain was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Oxford University in England. "A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read," said Twain.
4.) When growing up, Mark's family had a lot of cats. Even as an adult, he liked having cats around him. "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way."
5.) From 1846 to 1851, Mark Twain worked as a typesetter for the Hannibal Journal. He then went into the printing profession and traveled to Cincinnati, St. Louis, New York, and Philadelphia. It was in St. Louis that Mark fell in love with river boating and decided to become a steamboat pilot. This is where he settled on the pseudonym Mark Twain, which means the water is two fathoms, and safe for sailing. "The secret of getting ahead is getting started."
The wisdom and humor that Mark Twain was well known for are still alive today within some of his famous quotes. Through these we can see the true personality of the literary giant. The following words fairly shout of the depth of spirit this man claimed: "Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see" and "Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crossed it."
Though the phrases are simple, the thoughts are profound. Mark Twain was a great man and a great writer. The world is better for having known him.
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