Mark Twain is a world-famous writer, but did you know that his navigator career ended in tragedy? Do you know who is the prototype of Huckleberry Finn in real life? Let’s take a look at eight interesting facts about Mark Twain.
1. Frail premature babies
On November 30, 1835, Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in a small village in Florida, Missouri. Due to two months of premature delivery, he remained frail and sickly until the age of 7. Of the seven children in Clemens’s family, only three live to adulthood, and he ranks sixth. His father, John Marshall, was a self-taught lawyer and ran a grocery store. In 1839, in order to pursue better business opportunities, his father and his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri. Mark Twain’s son believes that the backgrounds of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are based on Hannibal Town. John Marshall later became the sheriff of Hannibal Town, but the family’s life was still struggling. When Clemens was 11, his 49-year-old father died of pneumonia.
2. Limited formal education
In 1848, a year after his father’s death, Clemens worked as a full-time printing apprentice at a newspaper in Hannibal. In 1851, he started to do layout work in the local newspaper run by his brother Olean, and also wrote some satirical essays for the newspaper. In 1853, Clemens left Hannibal at the age of 17, and worked for several years in New York, Philadelphia, and Keokuk County, Iowa.
3. An unfortunate career as a navigator
15-year-old Mark Twain
In 1857, Clemens did an apprenticeship as a ship navigator on the Mississippi River. In the following year, he worked on the passenger ship “Pennsylvania”. He also took a job on the ship for his brother Henry. Clemens worked until the beginning of June, and on June 13, a tragedy happened on the ship. The boiler exploded when the “Pennsylvania” sailed near Memphis. The accident took the lives of many crew members, including 19-year-old Henry. The departure of his younger brother made Clemens extremely sad. In 1859, he obtained the pilot’s license. It was not until the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861 that freight transactions along the Mississippi River were interrupted that his career as a navigator ended. Clemens’ pen name “Mark Twain” means a water depth of 12 feet (approximately 3.6 meters)-this is the safe water depth term for steamships.
4. Short-term militia service
In June 1861, shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War, the 25-year-old Clemens joined the militia team “Marion Rangers.” Mark Twain also had black slaves in his family when he was young, but he himself was not a fanatical follower of the war. He joined the militia mainly out of loyalty to his hometown (the ranger belongs to the Southern League). organization. But his military career did not last long. After only two weeks of training, the Ranger team heard that Ulysses Grant led the Union army in their direction (it was proved to be a fact afterwards). It happened that the army was short of supplies and disbanded on the spot. . A month later, when his elder brother Olean was going to work in Nevada, Clemens went with his elder brother, and this was far away from Missouri, where the gunpowder was everywhere. In Nevada, he tried mining silver mines to make a fortune, but unfortunately he failed to do so. In the autumn of 1862, he went to work as a reporter in a newspaper in Virginia. In February of the following year, he used the pseudonym Mark Twain for the first time. He also used other pen names before, such as W. Epaminondas Adrastus Blab and Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass.
It happened that Clemens and Ulysses Grant became friends and published the memoirs of the former president in 1885. This “Memoirs of General Grant” was once a bestseller. After Grant failed in business and ran out of family wealth, his widow was saved from poverty because of the huge amount of remuneration.
5. California’s new literary star
In May 1864, Mark Twain published an article in the newspaper to show off his sarcastic ability, which aroused the dissatisfaction of a journalist in Nevada. Mark Twain wanted to compete with him, but later maybe he was afraid of violating the local anti-duel ban, so he escaped. He went to San Francisco and found a job as a reporter there, but soon lost interest and was finally fired. In the same year, Mark Twain paid a bond for a friend who was arrested in a bar fight, but the person escaped. Mark Twain was unable to repay the debt and decided to leave San Francisco temporarily. He planned to go to the western mining area, and went to his friends in Tuolumne County, California, who lived in a mining cabin in the Jackass Mountain area. During the gold rush in 1849, gold prospectors in Jackass Mountain were in an endless stream, but when Mark Twain left, there were only a few miners left. Once, in the tavern at Angel Camp in Calaveras, the neighboring county, Mark Twain heard a story about a jumping frog competition. In February 1865, when Mark Twain returned to San Francisco, he received a letter from a New York writer friend asking Mark Twain to contribute a story to the book he planned. Mark Twain decided to adapt the story of the jumping frog, but when he finished it, his friend’s book had been published. However, the publisher sent “Jim Smiley and His Leapfrog” to the Saturday Press in New York, which published the article on November 18, 1865. The humorous story caused a huge response among readers, and began to be reprinted nationwide, and was finally named “The Famous Leaping Frog in Calaveras County”.
6. Huckleberry Finn’s prototype
”The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is set in the southern region before the Civil War. The protagonist Huckleberry Finn is a maverick teenager. The novel tells of him and his escaped slave Jim. The story of drifting on the Mississippi River. As early as in Mark Twain’s 1876 novel “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, Huck made his debut as Tom Sawyer’s little partner. Huck’s prototype was a boy named Tom Blankenship, who was four years older than Mark Twain and grew up in Hannibal. Blankenship was from a poor family, and his father was an ordinary worker and a well-known old alcoholic. As Mark Twain said in his autobiography: “The character of Huckleberry Finn is based entirely on Blankenship. He is uneducated, has no food, and can’t wear warm clothes, but He has a very kind heart, which is not available in other boys.” No one knows what happened to Blankenship. It is said that he became a sheriff in Montana, but there are other information that he was in jail for theft. Or die of cholera.
Needless to say, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” has been controversial since its publication. In 1885, it was published in the United States for only one month before being removed from the shelves of the Concord Library in Massachusetts, citing its so-called vulgar language and low moral tone. In the mid-20th century, critics accused the book of promoting racism, and in the following decades, some schools even removed it from the reading list. However, many scholars have rectified the name of this book, thinking it is a critique of racism.
7. The road to business with repeated failures
After becoming a famous writer, Mark Twain made a lot of useless investments and ended in bankruptcy. Speaking of those failed investments, the automatic typesetting machine is definitely one. The typesetting machine cost him a huge sum of about 200,000 U.S. dollars, and in the United States in 1890, most households earned less than 1,200 U.S. dollars a year. Later, when Alexander Graham Bell invited Mark Twain to invest in the phone, it was rumored that he had rejected the great inventor. Mark Twain himself has many inventions. The best-selling one is self-adhesive scrapbooks, and the elastics of pants are no one.
Since 1874, the Mark Twain family has lived in Hartford Manor, which has 25 rooms. In 1891, they were overwhelmed by their lives and moved to Europe where daily expenses were relatively cheap. In addition, Mark Twain also hopes that changing the environment will benefit his wife’s health. In 1894, the publishing company he had founded for ten years went bankrupt, and Mark Twain declared bankruptcy. In order to make money to pay off his debts, he began to give lecture tours around the world, and finally paid off all the debts a few years later.
8. All direct descendants have passed away
In 1870, Mark Twain married Olivia Langdon, and his wife Olivia grew up in an abolitionist family in Elmira, New York. In 1867, when Mark Twain took the Quaker City to Europe and the Holy Land Jerusalem, he met Olivia’s younger brother on the ship, and thus met his wife Olivia. (About this journey, Mark Twain described it in his 1869 best-selling travel collection “A Fool’s Traveling Abroad”.) Mark Twain had four children, and a son died when he was a toddler. Now, his two daughters also left him when they were in their 20s. His wife Olivia died in 1904 at the age of 58. Six years later, Mark Twain’s condition worsened and died on April 21 at his home in Redding, Connecticut. This great literary master had a rough life at the age of 74. In 1962, Mark Twain’s last daughter, Clara, also passed away at the age of 88. Since Clara’s child, Nina Gabrilovich, had never given birth, after her death in 1966, Mark Twain had no direct descendants.