A Connecticut Yankee
Mark Twain died on this date in 1910. Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, November 30 of 1835, Twain is considered our greatest American humorist. William Faulkner called him, “the father of American literature”.
Oddly enough, in 1909, he predicted his death saying:
“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.”
His prediction was pretty spot on as he died of a heart attack April 21, 1910 one day after the comet’s closest approach to Earth.
His first successful tale, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”, was my first venture into Twain’s work. I realized I was more than just a young smart ass, I could be a satirist! The piece was published in the New York weekly, The Saturday Press.
Twain was a science and tech fan. He was friends with Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. Spending much time in Tesla’s lab he liked fooling around with the scientist’s experiments. One of Edison’s earliest films is also the only known record of Mark Twain on film. To watch video click “watch on Youtube”.
Consider his novel “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”. It was about time travel which became a staple in science fiction story lines.
Twain even patented three inventions himself; an improvement to suspenders, a history trivia game and a self-pasting scrapbook. The scrapbook was his most commercially successful invention as you only needed to moistened the dry adhesive on the pages to stick things into it.
Mark Twain’s opinions evolved as he got older. Though he was always a stanch supporter of the abolition of slavery and emancipation of slaves he changed his opinions regarding imperialism and religion.
He was anti-imperialism and eventually anti religion. A supporter of woman’s rights he campaigned for woman’s suffrage. One of his most famous speeches was his “Votes for Women” speech as he pressed to grant voting rights for women.
Here is a link to text of the speech:
Being an animal lover he was also opposed to the then current vivisection practices. Vivisection was the experimentation on live animals often without anesthesia.
To this day we still don’t have a complete bibliography of Mark Twain’s work. He was so prolific publishing in numerous small publications and obscure newspapers. As recently as 1995 and again in 2005 researchers found newly undiscovered material of his.
- The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (1873)
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876)
- The Prince and the Pauper (1881)
- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889)
- The American Claimant (1892)
- Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894)
- Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894)
- Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896)
- Tom Sawyer, Detective (1896)
- The Mysterious Stranger (1916, posthumous)