Mark Twain Award


Patricia Truslow, Contributor

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mark twain awardThe list of Mark Twain awards is short considering the contributions he made to American literature during his lifetime. Mark Twain received the following:

  • Master of Arts Degree (Honorary) from Yale University in 1888
  • Doctor of Letters Degree (Honorary) from Yale University in 1901
  • Doctor of Letters Degree (Honorary) from Oxford University in 1907
  • Fastest typesetter in Missouri (date unknown)

Although there were several distinguished writing awards available during and after his literary career, such as the Newberry Award, he has never won any literary awards.

Mark Twain's achievements and accomplishments

The achievements of Mark Twain consist of many literary works, including novels, short stories, poetry and articles for magazines and newspapers. His most notable novels are:

  • The Gilded Age, (1873)
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876)
  • The Prince and the Pauper (1881)
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)
  • The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894)

Each of these novels continues to be among the most favorite literary choices of casual readers as well as scholars the world over. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn alone averages 200,000 copies sold per year.

In addition to his novels, Mark Twain's literary achievements include short stories, lectures essays and autobiographical works. A few of the most well-known are:

  • The Innocents Abroad (1869)
  • Life on the Mississippi (1883)
  • Mark Twain's Autobiography (2010, publishing date)

Mark Twain was also an accomplished storyteller. He had a certain twinkle to his eye and a very engaging personality, both of which endeared him to his listeners. One of his most popular, and his own personal favorite, of all his public speaking events as an entertainer took place in San Francisco in 1866, during which he lectured on "Our Fellow Savages of the Sandwich Islands." Twain had spent months in the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii) as a correspondent for the Sacramento Union; many of his contributions to the publication established Twain as a widely-respected humorist.

Mark Twain's greatest accomplishment is being recognized as the father of American literature. He saw himself as a great American, too, having said at one point: "I am not an American, I am the American." From Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama, presidents have employed Twain's remarks and observations about America and the people who occupy her. Hundreds of the greatest writers ever to come from America laud him; Eugene O'Neill called him "...the true father of all American literature;" William Faulkner said, "He is all our grandfather;" Norman Mailer insinuated that Twain had actually used some of Mailer's genius in many of Twain's works, a turnaround of the facts.

Mark Twain was also an inventor of sorts; he invented a self-sticking scrapbook, a trivia game about history, and a garment mechanism that improved suspenders. Mark Twain never realized how many achievements and accomplishments he amassed.