About Mark Twain


Patricia Truslow, Contributor

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Pen Names of Mark Twain

One of the most interesting facts about Samuel Clemens is his adoption of various pen names before finally settling on Mark Twain. He used the pseudonym, "Sieur Louis de Conte" when he wrote Joan of Arc in 1896; the initials, "S.L.C." for many of his poems and stories, and "Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass" as the author of three pieces of humor contributed to the Keokuk Post. While working as a prospector, Clemens wrote humorous accounts of mining under the simple name of "Josh."

Little known facts about Mark Twain

Mark Twain's legacy is full of more interesting facts filled with information about his life and his works as an author. Ten of the most fascinating and less known facts about Mark Twain's life are:

  • The author was fond of cats, having as many as nineteen at one time, but never less than two. He was also very interested in parapsychology, the study of paranormal phenomena, as a result of dreaming that his youngest brother would die on a steamboat, which he did.
  • On the occasion of Twain's birth and his death, Haley's Comet crossed the sky.
  • Mark Twain ordered all his manuscripts burned after his death.
  • He had three patented inventions, which were a vest strap, a history game and a self-sticking scrapbook.
  • Twain is often recognized as the author of one of the first science fiction books ever published, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
  • The characterization, "Miracle Worker" was given to Anne Sullivan by Mark Twain as he was describing Sullivan's work with Helen Keller.
  • Huckleberry Finn was modeled after Twain's friend, Tom Blankenship.
  • Twain began wearing his trademark white suit when he testified before the U.S. Congress about copyright law. He said that "light-colored clothing is more pleasing to the eye and enlivens the spirit." Twain referred to his white suit as his 'dontcareadam' suit, because it depicted his view of how he looked.
  • Before turning completely white, Mark Twain's hair and beard were red.
  • Mark Twain did not graduate from high school, but he was still presented with an honorary degree from Yale in 1888 and an Honorary Doctorate from Oxford University in 1907.
  • Twain used fingerprinting equipment to solve a crime in his fictional book Life on the Mississippi, the first time the device was used for this purpose.
  • William Faulkner called Twain 'the father of American literature,' a description that fits his reputation as being the first author to capture the spirit of the nation's people and the characteristics of the country.

Important fast facts about Mark Twain that few people know

Other fast facts about Mark Twain are more important, as are listed below:

  • Mark Twain took a solid stance against racism and slavery, but had a disdain for Native Americans. He never explained this strange characteristic.
  • He favored labor unions, but was very critical of organized religion. He belonged to the Freemasons, a fraternal organization that promoted self-improvement, social betterment and personal study.
  • Twain was vice president of the American Anti-Imperialist League, which took a stance against the imperialistic views in the U.S. He held this office for nine years, from 1901 until his death in 1910.
  • Twain was in the city of New Orleans on the day that Louisiana seceded from the Union.
  • Twain was well-known to world leaders. He was received by Alexander II of Russia, dined with Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and met with Austria-Hungary Emperor Franz-Josef.
  • Mark Twain had one grandchild, Nina, who never had any children, thus there are no direct descendants of Samuel Clemens.