As you know, on Fridays I like to bring you new books or guest authors. Recently I’ve decided to go back to some of the classic posts I had shared in the past (and to carry on with new posts), and one of my fellow authors had an excellent idea. She suggested a post on Mark Twain, and told me she’d written a book inspired by one of his novels. And I thought it was an excellent idea to combine both. So today, I share my vintage post on Mark Twain, and something new…
Mark Twain or Samuel Langhorne Clemens (his real name). He was born on 30th November 1835, in a small town called Florida (Mo). He was the 6th child of his family. His father, John Marshall (this is an error. Thanks to Kim Headlee, featured in the post, for clarifying that his name was Marshall Clemens, named after John Marshall), was a judge and they moved a few miles East to Hannibal, in the banks of the Mississippi, a stop for steam boats (travelling from St Louis and New Orleans) when he was very young. His childhood home is now his museum. His father died when he was only 12 and a year later he left school to become a printer’s apprentice. After that he spent a fair amount of time involved in the letters business and joined his brother Orion’s newspaper as printer and assistant editor. He moved to another job as a printer in St Louis, and once there he became a river pilot’s apprentice and obtained his pilot’s license in 1858. His pseudonym comes from that period. According to his official website (link below): It is a river term which means two fathoms or 12-feet when the depth of water for a boat is being sounded. “Mark twain” means that is safe to navigate. (Other explanations exist.)
Due to poor trade during the Civil War he started working as a newspaper reporter all over the country. He got married in 1870 to Olivia Langdon and although they had 4 children, only one, Clara, survived them, and she never had any children.
His first story to gain recognition was ‘The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calavaras County’ published in New York in 1865. (You won’t be surprised to hear that in Calavaras, California, they celebrate the Jumping Frog contest.) His first novel The Innocents Abroad was published in 1869, The Adventures of Tom Swayer in 1876, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in 1885…He wrote many other novels, sketches, articles, short stories, letters…
He was interested in science, modern gadgets and inventions and he invested heavily in some of them that resulted in him ending up heavily in debt, despite the money he obtained from selling his books and from his many speaking engagements.
He died on 21st April 1910. His childhood home is now a museum in Hannibal. His birth coincided with a visit by the Halley comet and he was convinced that his death would also be associated with it (he died the day after the next visit of the comet).
He’s renowned as a humorist and has many quotes attributed to him. Here a short selection:
A baby is an inestimable blessing and bother.
– Letter to Annie Webster, 1876
On Economy. So true:
It isn’t the sum you get, it’s how much you can buy with it, that’s the important thing; and it’s that that tells whether your wages are high in fact or only high in name.
– A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
I love this one about Genius:
Geniuses are people who dash off wierd, wild, incomprehensible poems with astonishing facility, & then go & get booming drunk & sleep in the gutter. Genius elevates a man to ineffable speres [sic] far above the vulgar world, & fills his soul with a regal contempt for the gross & sordid things of earth. It is probably on account of this that people who have genius do not pay their board, as a general thing.
– Mark Twain’s Notebooks & Journals, vol. 1, 1855-1873, p. 250.
And a few on humour:
Laughter without a tinge of philosophy is but a sneeze of humor. Genuine humor is replete with wisdom.
– quoted in Mark Twain and I, Opie Read
Humor is the great thing, the saving thing after all. The minute it crops up, all our hardnesses yield, all our irritations, and resentments flit away, and a sunny spirit takes their place.
– “What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us”
Humor is the good natured side of a truth.
– quoted in Mark Twain and I, Opie Read
Check the below link for more quotations…
University of Virginia website about Mark Twain:
A page about his quotes:
Free links to his books:
The Prince and the Pauper exits free but in 9 parts. There are cheap editions that might be a better option.
Sketches New and Old and Tales of the Mississippi are also available in several parts also.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (impressively enough between 4 and 5 stars and nearly 1000 reviews, that for a classic is pretty good. It’s one of the most accepted contenders to the title of The Great American Novel)
A Double-Barrelled Detective Story
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (I love many of his novels but I’ve always loved this weird mixture of modern and fantasy medieval and his characterisation in this one, and there have been pretty amusing film adaptations that I’d recommend checking.)
And many more…
Thanks for reading and if you’ve enjoyed it remember to comment, share, and as it’s FREE, click! And also, remember that all this books are free thanks to volunteer transcribers so if you have a loved classic book that’s not already available and you’d like to share…What a great contribution to book lovers everywhere!
Also, many of his books are available in German, Spanish, French in free versions also…
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain (yaragmansour.wordpress.com)
- Mark Twain Once Said… (redoyouproject.wordpress.com)
- Day 9: Mark Twain House, First Baptist Church in America, & Newport, RI (jabcut.wordpress.com)
I did mention in the original post that ‘A Connecticut Yankee’ was one of my favourites, and lo and behold, a fellow author, Kim Headlee, mentioned Twain and her own book, and I could not resist.
First, a bit about the author:
Kim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, Great Pyrenees goat guards, and assorted wildlife. People and creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins–the latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-twentieth century–seem to be sticking around for a while yet.
Kim is a Seattle native and a direct descendent of 20th century Russian nobility. Her grandmother was a childhood friend of the doomed Grand Duchess Anastasia, and the romantic yet tragic story of how Lydia escaped Communist Russia with the aid of her American husband will most certainly one day fuel one of Kim’s novels. Another novel in the queue will involve her husband’s ancestor, the seventh-century proto-Viking king of the Swedish colony in Russia.
For the time being, however, Kim has plenty of work to do in creating her projected 8-book Arthurian series, The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles, and publishing other novels under her imprint, Pendragon Cove Press.
Check her Amazon author page if you want to read more about her, view her other books, and follow her.
Ah, and the book?
King Arthur’s Sister in Washington Court
Morgan le Fay, 6th-century Queen of Gore and the only major character not killed off by Mark Twain in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, vows revenge upon the Yankee Hank Morgan. She casts a spell to take her to 1879 Connecticut so she may waylay Sir Boss before he can travel back in time to destroy her world. But the spell misses by 300 miles and 200 years, landing her in the Washington, D.C., of 2079, replete with flying limousines, hovering office buildings, virtual-reality television, and sundry other technological marvels.
Whatever is a time-displaced queen of magic and minions to do? Why, rebuild her kingdom, of course—two kingdoms, in fact: as Campaign Boss for the reelection of American President Malory Beckham Hinton, and as owner of the London Knights world-champion baseball franchise.
Written as though by the old master himself, King Arthur’s Sister in Washington’s Court by Mark Twain as channeled by Kim Iverson Headlee offers laughs, love, and a candid look at American society, popular culture, politics, baseball…and the human heart.
Here the link:
Ah, as I was checking Kim’s page, I saw that she has a novella FREE, so if you want experience her writing first hand, here I leave you with:
The Color of Vengeance (The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles)
Vengeance was the only burial gift he could bestow.
When Angli cattle thieves slaughter his wife and son, Dwras son of Gwyn vows revenge upon their murderers. But how can a mere farmer prevail against ruthless, trained warriors? For the answer Dwras must look not to his sword, but within his heart.
Thanks so much to Mark Twain, for his great books and his wit, to Kim Headlee for alerting me to her book, and thank you all for reading. And you know, like, share, comment, and CLICK! Ah, don’t miss Kim’s comments below, as she talks about the paperback version of this book and… it sounds unmissable!
Ah, and don’t hesitate to leave me links to your books if they are inspired in the work of classic authors, their novels or their lives. I’ll gladly share them here!