One of the things I love most about blogging is being able to write about a variety of subjects that interest me ... from sharing recipes and decorating and gardening projects to taking "field trips" with my camera. And, of course, I love sharing stories about and pictures of our 3-1/2-year-old granddaughter Avery Grace.
I also enjoy writing about people I find interesting or admire, and my post today features Mark Twain. [If you don't care to read the biographical information, scroll down the page and read some of his quotations. He was a colorful character and I think you will enjoy his plainspoken wit and wisdom].
On November 30, 1835, the small town of Florida, Missouri, witnessed the birth of its most famous son. Samuel Langhorne Clemens was welcomed into the world as the sixth child of John Marshall and Jane Lampton Clemens. Little did John and Jane know, their son Samuel would one day be known as Mark Twain - America's most famous literary icon.
Approximately four years after his birth, the Clemens family moved 35 miles east to the town of Hannibal, a growing port city on the banks of the Mississippi River. Hannibal was a frequent stop for steam boats arriving day and night from St. Louis and New Orleans, and served as the inspiration for the fictional town of St. Petersburg, in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
When Samuel was 12, his father died of pneumonia, and at 13, Samuel left school to become a printer's apprentice. After two short years, he joined his brother Orion's newspaper as a printer and editorial assistant. It was here that young Samuel found he enjoyed writing.
At 17, he left Hannibal behind for a printer's job in St. Louis. While in St. Louis, Clemens became a river pilot's apprentice. He became a licensed river pilot in 1858. Clemens' pseudonym, Mark Twain, comes from his days as a river pilot. 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.
Because the river trade was brought to a standstill by the War Between the States in 1861, Clemens began working as a newspaper reporter for several newspapers all over the United States. In 1870, Clemens married Olivia Langdon, and they had four children, one of whom died in infancy and two who died in their twenties. Their surviving child, Clara, lived to be 88, and had one daughter. Clara's daughter died without having any children, so there are no direct descendants of Samuel Clemens living.
Twain began to gain fame in 1965, when his story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calavaras County" appeared in the New York Saturday Press. Twain's first book, The Innocents Abroad, was published in 1869, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, in 1876, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, in 1885.
He wrote 28 books and numerous short stories, letters, and sketches.
During his lifetime, Twain became a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty. He enjoyed immense public popularity, and his keen wit and incisive satire earned him praise from both critics and peers. American author (and one of Mississippi's most famous sons), William Faulkner, called him the "Father of American Literature."
Mark Twain passed away on April 21, 1910, and his childhood home is open to the public as a museum in Hannibal.
The homespun wit and wisdom of Mark Twain transcend time and can be found in hundreds of quotations by him, as well as in his books. Here are a few of my favorite quotations, some of which you may recognize:
I was gratified to be able to answer promptly. I said I don't know.It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not to deserve them.
It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.
Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.
Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.
My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.
Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.
The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.
The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.
Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.
Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritations and resentments slip away and a sunny spirit takes their place.You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.