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              Mark Twain

              A picture of the author Mark Twain

              Born November 30, 1835 in Florida, Mark Twain “came in with the comet” and as he predicted "went out with the comet” passing April 21, 1910, the day after Halley’s Comet. His real name was Samuel Longhorne Clemens, and he took his pen name from his days as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River where the cry “mark twain” signaled the depth of water -- about 12 feet was required for the safe passage of riverboats.

              Mark Twain was a talented writer, speaker and humorist whose own personality shined through his work. As his writing grew in popularity, he became a public figure and iconic American whose work represents some of the best in the genre of Realism. As the young country grew in size but not in a cultural manner to the liking of the European gentry, it became fashionable to criticize "the ugly American.” Twain famously travelled abroad and disarmed his audience with his wit and humor with pronouncements like the following: “In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language.”

              Mark Twain quote bourbonTwain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri and would later use that location as the setting for two of his most famous works, Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He started his career as a typesetter at a newspaper, worked as a printer, a riverboat pilot, and then turned to gold mining. When he failed to strike it rich, he turned to journalism and it was during that time that he wrote the short story that would launch his career, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County -- a story that captivated me when read out loud by one of my teachers in elementary school. Children may also enjoy reading Mark Twain: A Child's Biography.

              While Twain’s career as a writer enriched him, his turn as a gentleman investor did much to impoverish him. He lost a great deal of his writing profits and much of his wife’s inheritance on different investments, the costliest was his backing of a promising typesetting machine. The machine had great potential but it failed in the market due to frequent breakdowns. Twain recovered financially with the help of a benefactor from Standard Oil, Henry Huttleson Rogers. Rogers guided Twain successfully through bankruptcy and even had Twain transfer his copyrights to his wife to keep his royalties from his creditors. Further success from book sales and lectures restored his financial health and in the end all his creditors were paid.

              Mark Twain is also well remembered for his witty quotations, a small sampling follows:

              Mark Twain quote artsyMany a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.

              Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.

              Good breeding consists of concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.

              All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.

              Man is the Only Animal that Blushes. Or needs to.

              It takes your enemy and your friend, working together, to hurt you: the one to slander you, and the other to get the news to you.

              When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not.

              Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.

              It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.

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

              If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.

              I was gratified to be able to answer promptly. I said I don't know.

              I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him.

              I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.

              I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying that I approved of it.

              Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.

              Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.

              Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge.

              By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity -- another man's I mean.

              An Englishman is a person who does things because they have been done before. An American is a person who does things because they haven't been done before.

              Mark Twain quoteAlways acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.

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

              A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.

              A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

              And as Ernest Hemingway wisely observed:
              "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.""

              Enjoy some illustrated Short Stories from Mark Twain; click to read.

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              Short Stories

              About Barbers
              About Magnanimous-Incident Literature
              About Play-Acting
              About Smells
              A Burlesque Biography
              A Cure for the Blues
              A Curious Experience
              A Curious Pleasure Excursion
              A Defence of General Funston
              A Dog's Tale
              Advice To Little Girls
              A Entertaining Article
              A Fable
              A Fashion Item
              A Fine Old Man
              After-Dinner Speech
              "After" Jenkins
              A Ghost Story
              A Helpless Situation
              A Humane Word from Satan
              A Letter from Santa Claus
              A Letter to the Secretary of the Treasury
              A Medieval Romance
              A Memory
              Amended Obituaries
              Among the Fenians
              Among the Spirits
              A Monument to Adam
              A Mysterious Visit
              An Encounter With An Interviewer
              A New Crime
              Answers to Correspondents
              A Reminiscence of the Back Settlements
              A Royal Compliment
              A Telephonic Conversation
              A True Story, Repeated Word for Word As I Heard It
              At The Appetite-Cure
              Aurelia's Unfortunate Young Man
              Cannibalism In The Cars
              Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven
              Christian Science and the book of Mrs. Eddy
              Colonel Mulberry Sellers
              Concerning Chambermaids
              Concerning The American Language
              Concerning The Jews
              Concerning Tobacco
              Curing A Cold
              Curious Relic For Sale
              Dan Murphy
              Dick Baker's Cat
              Diplomatic Pay and Clothes
              Disgraceful Persecution Of A Boy
              Does the Race of Man Love a Lord??
              Edward Mills and George Benton: A Tale
              English as She is Taught
              Eve's Diary
              Experience Of The McWilliamses With Membranous Croup
              Extracts from Adam's Diary
              First Interview With Artemus Ward
              From the 'London Times' of 1904
              General Washington's Negro Body-Servant
              Goldsmith's Friend Abroad Again
              History Repeats Itself
              Honored As A Curiosity
              How I Edited an Agricultural Paper
              How The Author Was Sold In Newark
              How to Tell a Story
              Hunting The Deceitful Turkey
              Information Wanted
              In Memoriam - Olivia Susan Clemens
              Introduction to "The New Guide of the Conversation in Portuguese and English"
              Is He Living or Is He Dead?
              Italian with Grammar
              Italian Without a Master
              Jim Baker's Blue-Jay Yarn
              John Chinaman In New York
              Johnny Greer
              Journalism In Tennessee
              Legend Of Sagenfeld, In Germany
              Lionizing Murderers
              Lost in the Snow
              Mark Twain: A Child's Biography
              Mr. Bloke's Item
              My Bloody Massacre
              My Boyhood Dreams
              My Debut as a Literary Person
              My First Lie, and How I Got Out of It
              My First Literary Venture
              My Late Senatorial Secretaryship
              My Military Campaign
              My Watch
              Paris Notes
              "Party Cries" In Ireland
              Petition Concerning Copyright
              Political Economy
              Portrait of King William III
              Post-mortem Poetry
              Punch, Brothers, Punch!
              Riley-Newspaper Correspondent
              Running For Governor
              Some Learned Fables, For Good Old Boys And Girls
              Speech At The Scottish Banquet In London
              Speech On Accident Insurance
              Speech On The Babies
              Speech On The Weather
              Switzerland, the Cradle of Liberty
              The 1,000,000 Bank Note
              The $30,000 Bequest
              The Approaching Epidemic
              The Californian's Tale
              The Canvasser's Tale
              The Capitoline Venus
              The Captain's Story
              The Carnival of Crime in Connecticut
              The Case Of George Fisher
              The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
              The Curious Dream
              The Curious Republic of Gondour
              The Dandy Frightening the Squatter
              The Danger of Lying in Bed
              The Death Of Jean
              The Enemy Conquered; or, Love Triumphant
              The Esquimaux Maiden's Romance
              The Facts Concerning the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut
              The Facts Concerning The Recent Resignation
              The Facts In The Case Of The Great Beef Contract
              The First Writing Machines
              The Five Boons of Life
              The Great Revolution In Pitcairn
              The Invalid's Story
              The Judge's "Spirited Woman"
              The Jumping Frog
              The Killing of Julius Caesar "Localized"
              The Late Benjamin Franklin
              The Loves Of Alonzo Fitz Clarence And Rosannah Ethelton
              The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg
              The McWilliamses And The Burglar Alarm
              The Office Bore
              The Petrified Man
              The Private History of a Campaign That Failed
              The Recent Great French Duel
              The Science vs Luck
              The Scriptural Panoramist
              The Siamese Twins
              The Stolen White Elephant
              The Story Of The Bad Little Boy
              The Story Of The Good Little Boy
              The True Story
              The Undertaker's Chat
              The War Prayer
              The Widow's Protest
              The Wild Man Interviewed
              To Raise Poultry
              To the Above Old People
              Travelling with a Reformer
              Was it Heaven? Or Hell?
              Wit Inspirations Of The "Two-Year-Olds"


              Anton Chekhov
              Nathaniel Hawthorne
              Susan Glaspell
              Mark Twain
              Edgar Allan Poe
              Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
              Herman Melville
              Stephen Leacock
              Kate Chopin
              Bj?rnstjerne Bj?rnson