Samuel Langhorne Clemens one of the greatest psychologists that America has ever produced was born on November 30, 1835 in Mississippi, U.S.A. Better known by his pen name, Mark Twain was an American author and humorist.
With his acerbic wit and flat-out subversiveness, he continues to enthrall generations for years to come. Mark Twain was insightful, he once said:
Twain was multifaceted. He was a novelist, a Confederate militia, a social critic, a licensed river pilot, an inventor, a travel correspondent, a journalist, a gold and silver miner, a peripatetic printer, a lecturer and a laborer in a quartz mine.
His first success as a writer came when his humorous tall tale, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”, was published in a New York weekly,The Saturday Press, on November 18, 1865. It garnered nation-wide attention and was even translated into classic Greek.
“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.”
— Mark Twain, Notebook (1887)
Twain was very outspoken on issues such as racism, animal cruelty and slavery. Apparently, he loved cats and wanted them around him all the time.
Here are some interesting anecdotes about the master storyteller:
1. One day during a lecture tour, Mark Twain entered a local barber shop for a shave. This, Twain told the barber, was his first visit to the town.
“You’ve chosen a good time to come,” he declared.
“Oh?” Twain replied.
“Mark Twain is going to lecture here tonight. You’ll want to go, I suppose?”
“I guess so…”
“Have you bought your ticket yet?”
“No, not yet.”
“Well, it’s sold out, so you’ll have to stand.”
“Just my luck,” said Twain with a sigh. “I always have to stand when that fellow lectures!”
2. One night a group of Mark Twain’s friends in New York, having recognized the date as that of his birth, decided to send him a suitable greeting. Unfortunately, the globe-trotting traveler was away and no one knew where he might be reached. After some deliberation, a letter was simply sent off with the address: “Mark Twain, God Knows Where.” Several weeks later a letter arrived from Twain: “He did.”
3. One day during his tenure as the editor of a small Missouri newspaper, Mark Twain received a letter from a reader who had found a spider in his paper. He wondered whether this portended good or badluck.
“Finding a spider in your paper,” Twain replied, “is neither good luck nor bad. The spider was merely looking over our paper to see which merchant was not advertising so that he could go to that store, spin his web across the door, and lead a life of undisturbed peace ever afterward.”
In 1909, Twain 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. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together’. He died the day after the comet returned.
Twain was married to Olivia for thirty four years until she passed away. They had four children including a son who died as a toddler and three daughters, of whom, two passed away in their early twenties. Despite such tragic incidents, he succeeded as a humorist. He was lauded as the “greatest American humorist of his age”, and William Faulkner called Twain “The father of American literature”.
A century after his death, scores of his quotes surface online and still find space in motivational sites.