A Collection of Wisdom

Mark Twain

Mark Twain was a prolific writer who lived from 1835 to 1910. Among his many works, he produced several masterpiece novels that have become legendary in American literature.

Early Life

Mark Twain was born in Missouri with the name Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He spent most of his early life in the city of Hannibal, Missouri, which lay along the Mississippi River.

While growing up, Mark soaked up the colorful environment of the steamboat culture he was surrounded in, which included the immense variety of people that came and went along with the boats. It was those rich and diverse experiences that laid the foundation for much of Mark’s later writings.

By the time Mark had reached his teens, his father died, and Mark began working in the printing and newspaper industry. By age 16, he began helping his older brother produce a local newspaper, and also contributed various pieces to the publication. A couple of years later, he scoured the country and worked in various print shops.

In his early to mid twenties, Mark trained for and became a riverboat pilot along the Mississippi River, and tremendously enjoyed dealing with the diverse array of people and situations he encountered.

Becoming Mark Twain

By the early 1860s, Mark decided to pursue a writing career, and began using the penname Mark Twain, which is a measuring term used by riverboat people. He wrote short stories for various newspapers and magazines, and his writing steadily grew in popularity.

Producing His Most Notable Works

Mark got married in 1870, and published his first novel The Gilded Age in 1873. Over the next eleven years, he produced many of his most notable works, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Life on the Mississippi (1883), and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884).

Most of Mark’s books borrowed many various themes and characters from his diverse life growing up and working along the Mississippi River. Mark’s novels were noted for their colorful and lifelike dialogue and characters, as well as their humorous overtones.

Later Life and Career

After a operating a failed publishing company and pursuing a string of bad investments, Mark Twain began a worldwide lecturing career in the 1890s, and gained tremendous international acclaim. His lecturing also made him a very popular character, noted for his white suits, mustache, and cigar and pipe smoking.

Mark also continued writing a variety of novels and short stories. Unlike his earlier works, however, Mark’s later works had a more serious tone to them, and also expressed some of his commentary on human nature (which he viewed as primarily selfish), and his various philosophical beliefs.

Over that time, Mark also endured several tragedies in his personal life, including the deaths of his daughter Susy in 1896, his wife Olivia in 1904, and his daughter Jean in 1909. Mark died of heart disease in 1910, and left behind several works that were published later.


Mark Twain’s work is considered among the preeminent material in modern American literature; and along with the works of several others writers, his writings helped define a distinct American flavor of literature.

Mark’s vast volumes of works remain popular today, and have been a tremendous influence on numerous other American writers. The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn is considered by many to be the greatest American novel ever written.

Mark Twain Quotes