M is for Mark Twain

Mark Twain with his characteristic mop of
shaggy hair and his famous cigar. He is said 
to have smoked 22 to 40 cigars a day and once said, 
"if smoking is not allowed in heaven, I shall not go."
1835 - 1910

When I was young we had a book of comprehension that had short passages from various books. It was such a great way to whet a young reader’s curiosity – give her a tiny glimpse of a wonderful world then wait for her to go looking for the book.

That’s how I sought out this author ­- Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain author of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of  Huckleberry Finn. I remember well, the passage where Tom Sawyer trades an apple to ‘allow’ his friends to paint the fence instead of him. Brilliant! His other best selling work Huckleburry Finn was an offshoot from Tom Sawyer and tackled the issue of slavery. Twain had seen slavery up close in his homestate Missouri. The books remain popular among readers even today.

It is not possible to do justice to him or to his books in a few hundred words here. I do hope, however, that like my language book I manage to whet your appetite through this post, to seek him out on your own.

His books are special

With his wife and three daughters. He fell in love with his
wife when he saw her picture with his future brother-in-law.
… because he was one of the wittiest authors ever. His wrote funny books that would appeal to young kids even while there would be a sensitive, intelligent undercurrent running through them. His books contain a satirical commentary on the society and the human nature which cannot but appeal to adults as well.

A man of many trades and many names

Mark Twain's father passed away when he was 11 and he started working when he was just 12 at a printing press. He took up various jobs including that of a steamboat captain (where he got his name Mark Twain) and a prospector before he took to writing. How he got his pen name is one of my favourite stories. While he was a river pilot the cry of 'Mark Twain' implied it was safe to sail because the water's depth as measured by a 'mark' on a line was two 'twain' fathoms (12 feet). He used other pseudonyms too inluding Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass, W Epaminodas Adrastus Blab, Sergeant Fathom and Rambler.

Did you know?

- That Mark Twain was a great speaker? He was often invited to talk shows which he would present in his quintessential witty style. These were solo ‘acts’ almost like the current day stand-up comic shows.

- And that he had a keen interest in Science and Technology? He even patented three inventions – a replacement to suspenders for trousers, a history trivia game and a self-pasting scrap book. How’s that for creativity?

- Also, he was a master of quotable quotes
Next time you need a quirky quote search for Mark Twain. Sample these..

The Comet Connection

He was born in 1835 two weeks after the Halley’s Comet made its closest approach to the Earth. He believed he would go away with the Comet as well. And he did just that – he passed away in 1910 one day after the comet again made a close approach to the earth.
Ladies keep your handkerchief's at the ready for tomorrow as I host a Master of Mush. A contemporary gentleman who has penned some of the most poignant romances you've ever read.
This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, 2014 for the theme AMAZING AUTHORS.

Also linking to the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

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