AUTHORS (1835–1910); FLORIDA, MISSOURI
Mark Twain, author of classic books such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Gilded Age (plus a wide variety of short stories and other literature), had a quick wit and prolific body of work that has made him one of America's most quoted—and misquoted—writers. Find out more about his life and legacy, as well as some quotes about love, loss, and comedy.
1. Mark Twain’s real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens.
After trying out other aliases like “Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass” and “Sergeant Fathom,” Samuel Langhorne Clemens adopted “Mark Twain” in 1863. He claimed the idea came from his stint as a Mississippi River steamboat captain before the Civil War—sailors used to call out “mark twain!” to identify when the water was two fathoms (or 12 feet) deep.
2. Samuel Clemens's signature was discovered in the Mark Twain Cave in July 2019.
Mark Twain was known to have spent his boyhood exploring the three miles of passageways in a cave in Hannibal, Missouri, that would later become the inspiration for a scene in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. For more than a century, visitors have examined the walls for some sign of the author’s time there—and, during a tour in July 2019, one hawk-eyed spelunker finally spotted the word Clemens among the other names that line the walls.
3. The Mark Twain National Forest could’ve been named after a different famous Missourian.
When the Department of Agriculture bought more than 3 million acres of land in Missouri and Arkansas in 1934 and 1935, various forestry professionals chimed in with their opinions about which Missourian deserved to be the namesake for the expansive soon-to-be national forest. Other contenders included World War I general John J. Pershing, poet Eugene Field, and pioneer Daniel Boone (who was actually born in Pennsylvania, though he died in Missouri).
4. And Mark Twain also has a lake named after him.
A little over 30 miles from Hannibal, Missouri, the 18,600-acre Mark Twain Lake is Missouri’s seventh largest. The area not only boasts beaches, hiking trails, camping grounds, and other outdoor activities, it’s also home to the Mark Twain State Park, where you can visit the tiny two-room cabin where Clemens was born in 1835.
5. Mark Twain’s house in Hartford, Connecticut, has a whopping 25 rooms.
Mark Twain and his wife, Olivia Langdon Clemens, had three daughters and a son, Langdon, who died at just 19 months. The couple's daughters were:
- Olivia Susan "Susy" Clemens
- Clara Langdon Clemens
- Jane "Jean" Lampton Clemens
The family lived in their Hartford, Connecticut, mansion for 17 years, between 1874 and 1891. It was during that time that Clemens wrote his most famous books, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi, The Prince and the Pauper, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and, of course, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
6. Books weren’t Mark Twain’s only claim to fame.
He also patented several inventions during his career, including: A convoluted trivia board game called Memory Builder, which required an extensive knowledge of figures, dates, and events across European and American history; a self-adhesive scrapbook that worked much like an envelope; and an adjustable, detachable garment clasp that was primarily intended for suspenders, but ended up being used mostly for bras.
Mark Twain Books You Should Know:
- The Innocents Abroad (1869)
- Roughing It (1872)
- The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (1873)
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876)
- A Tramp Abroad (1880)
- The Prince and the Pauper (1881)
- Life on the Mississippi (1883)
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)
- The American Claimant (1892)
- The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894)
- Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894)
- Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896)
- Tom Sawyer, Detective (1896)
- Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World (1897)
- A Horse's Tale (1906)
- The Mysterious Stranger (1916)
Funny Mark Twain Quotes
- “Yes, even I am dishonest. Not in many ways, but in some. Forty-one, I think it is.”
- “Wisdom teaches us that none but birds should go out early, and that not even birds should do it unless they are out of worms.”
- “I reverently believe that the Maker who made us all makes everything in New England but the weather.”
- “A use has been found for everything but snoring.”
- “There would be a power of fun in skating if you could do it with somebody else’s muscles.”
- “You ought never to take anything that don’t belong to you—if you cannot carry it off.”
- “Familiarity breeds contempt—and children.”
Mark Twain's Quotes About Love
- “Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.”
- “Love is a madness; if thwarted it develops fast.”
- “When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain.”
- “The frankest and freest product of the human mind and heart is a love letter.”
Mark Twain's Quotes About Life and Death
- “Pity is for the living, envy is for the dead.”
- “Manifestly, dying is nothing to a really great and brave man.”
- “It is a solemn thought: dead, the noblest man’s meat is inferior to pork.”
- “Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”
- “Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”
- “Only he who has seen better days and lives to see better days again knows their full value.”
- “Life: we laugh and laugh, then cry and cry, then feebler laugh, then die.”
- “When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries of life disappear and life stands explained.”
Mark Twain's Quotes About Travel
- “There is no unhappiness like the misery of sighting land (and work) again after a cheerful, careless voyage.”
- “Travel has no longer any charm for me. I have seen all the foreign countries I want to except heaven and hell and I have only a vague curiosity about one of those.”
- “Nothing so liberalizes a man and expands the kindly instincts that nature put in him as travel and contact with many kinds of people.”
- “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”