Celebrating Mark Twain

Dale Fehringer

© Copyright 2010 by Dale Fehringer 


Photo of Mark Twain.

April 21 is the 100th anniversary of the death of Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), who died in 1910 at age 74.  He managed to pack a lot of adventure into those 74 years.

After his father died of pneumonia when he was 11, Twain went to work for his brother at a local newspaper.  At age 18 he left Hannibal and worked as a printer in New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Cincinnati -- educating himself in libraries along the way.

Twain became a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River, and in 1860 he and his brother traveled by stagecoach to Nevada where he worked briefly as a gold miner.  He hated mining and soon went to work at a Virginia City newspaper, where he first used the Mark Twain pen name. He moved to San Francisco in 1864 and achieved his first notoriety when his tall tale "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" was published. A year later, he traveled to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) as a reporter and in 1867 a local newspaper funded a trip to Europe, where he wrote a collection of travel letters which were later compiled as "The Innocents Abroad."

Twain married, had three daughters, and spent the rest of his life writing (including "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer"), speaking, and promoting his various and often controversial philosophies.

In 1909, Twain wrote, "I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it."  His prediction was accurate, as he died on April 21, 1910 one day after the comet's closest approach to Earth.

A few favorite Mark Twain quotes:

"Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

"A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way."

"Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest."

"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."

Dale Fehringer is a freelance writer in San FranciscoHe can be reached at 1.415.647.4870, or by e-mail at dalefehringer@hotmail.com.

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