Samuel Langhorne Clemens popularly known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer.
Born on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri, the sixth of seven children born to Jane , a native of Kentucky, and John Marshall Clemens , a native of Virginia. When he was four, Twain’s family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, a port town on the Mississippi River that inspired the fictional town of St. Peters-burg in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Slavery was legal in Missouri at the time, and it became a theme in these writings. His father was an attorney and judge, who died of pneumonia in 1847, when Twain was 11. The following year, Twain left school after the fifth grade to become a printer’s apprentice. In 1851, he began working as a typesetter, contributing articles and humorous sketches to the Hannibal Journal, a newspaper that Orion owned. When he was 18, he left Hannibal and worked as a printer in New York City, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Cincinnati, joining the newly formed International Typographical Union, the printers trade union. He educated himself in public libraries in the evenings, finding wider information than at a conventional school.
Twain describes his boyhood in Life on the Mississippi, stating that “there was but one permanent ambition” among his comrades: to be a steamboatman.
Pilot was the grandest position of all. The pilot, even in those days of trivial wages, had a princely salary – from a hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty dollars a month, and no board to pay.
Orion became secretary to Nevada Territory governor James W. Nye in 1861, and Twain joined him when he moved west. The brothers traveled more than two weeks on a stagecoach across the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, visiting the Mormon community in Salt Lake City.
He referred humorously to his lack of success at mining, turning to journalism for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. His humorous story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County“, was published in 1865, based on a story that he heard at Angels Hotel in Angels Camp, California, where he had spent some time as a miner. The short story brought international attention and was even translated into French. His wit and satire, in prose and in speech, earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.
Twain earned a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, but he invested in ventures that lost most of it—such as the Paige Compositor, a mechanical typesetter that failed because of its complexity and imprecision. He filed for bankruptcy in the wake of these financial setbacks, but he eventually overcame his financial troubles with the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers. He eventually paid all his creditors in full, even though his bankruptcy relieved him of having to do so. Twain was born shortly after an appearance of Halley’s Comet, and he predicted that he would “go out with it” as well; he died the day after the comet returned.
Mark Twain Quotes
“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
“To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.”
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear”
“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”
“The lack of money is the root of all evil.”
“A man’s character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation.”
“Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.”
“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well”.
“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”
“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”
“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”