178th birthday: Mark Twain celebrates his birth anniversary today

From Ohh Now News Desk

The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain

The brilliant mind that gave humanity gems like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn would have had a great birthday celebration on November 30th.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born two months prematurely, shortly after the appearance of Halley’s Comet on November 30, 1835, in Florida. The original travel writer, Clemens, adopted the pen name “Mark Twain” to write some of the most touching, evocative, and brilliant works of fiction.

Mark Twain donned many hats—he was a humourist, a journalist, a professor, and a novelist. Counted among the most significant American authors, his works include; “The Innocents Abroad,” “Roughing It,” “Life on the Mississippi,” “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” 

Samuel Langhorne Clemens was the sixth child of a lawyer, John Marshall, and his wife, Jane Lampton Clemens. He wasn’t a healthy child. He lost his father at the tender age of 11 years. 

Twain began to work different jobs to support his struggling family. He became a store clerk, a delivery boy, an apprentice, and then a compositor for local printers. Mark Twain then began submitting his writings to local newspapers as well. His satirical caricature “The Dandy Frightening the Squatter” was published in a sportsmen’s magazine in Boston, Massachusetts, when he was 17. 

In today’s age, he would have rocked as a TedX speaker since he was in great demand as a remarkable public speaker who used humour effectively to convey unique ideas. He became known as a brilliant professor after he delivered his first public speech in 1856.

He also acquired his license as a riverboat pilot in 1859. Samuel’s experience in the field led him to adopt the name “Mark Twain.” The term refers to the depth of water that is safe to navigate.

As Mark Twain, Samuel Clemens wrote 28 books, essays, travelogues, sketches, letters, and short stories. In addition to being a prolific writer, he loved science and enjoyed a spirit of scientific inquiry. He was fascinated by technological innovations and had even patented three inventions (which included “Improvement in Adjustable and Detachable Straps for Garments” that could replace suspenders, a history trivia game, and a self-pasting scrapbook).

He was one of the close friends of scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla. 

Twain was also an early advocate for the use of fingerprinting in forensic science. His fascination for technology is evident in one of his novels, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. The novel, which came out in 1889, revolves around the concept of time travel and the introduction of technology in the past. 

Though he had amassed a fortune through writing, he also lost a great deal owing to bad investments in new inventions. An invention that brought him to bankruptcy was the Paige typesetting machine. Though the machine had been a beautifully engineered machine that received a lot of appreciation from the public, it suffered breakdowns. Twain lost the bulk of his book profits and a considerable part of his wife’s inheritance (which would have amounted to about $9,000,000 as of 2022) on the machine.

Twain also lost money through his publishing house, Charles L. Webster and Company, which had been initially successful. 

Due to financial setbacks, Mark Twain had to declare bankruptcy. However, he managed to recover through his writings and public lectures. Twain was helped by his friend, Henry Huttleston Rogers, during the trying period.

Samuel Clemens was married to Olivia Langdon, whom he had courted through letters. She hailed from a wealthy family of liberal thinkers.

In 1909, Twain observed, “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.” 

Just as he had predicted, the author, with his unique sense of humour, suffered a fatal cardiac arrest on April 21, 1910, a day after Halley’s Comet appeared closest to the planet.

We at Ohh now salute the brilliant writer.

Happy birthday, Mark Twain!

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