Twain’s Life and Works

 

Mark TwainSamuel L. Clemens, the future Mark Twain, was born when Halley’s Comet was in the skies. He died during the comet’s return 74 years later. In between, Clemens traveled the world and had many experiences as he passed from typesetter to river pilot, prospector, newspaper reporter, lecturer, author, publisher, businessman and family man. On this page you will find general information on Mark Twain, including a timeline of his life, genealogy, and publishing career. Here is a brief chronology of the life of Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain.

 

1835

Florida 70286[1]Born prematurely at Florida, Missouri, November 30 to Judge John Marshall and Jane Lampton Clemens. Halley’s Comet was in the skies above.

1839

Family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, where Judge J.M. Clemens, Samuel’s father, began to operate general store.

1843-44

Family moved into house known as Mark Twain Boyhood Home.

1846-47

1902 Boyhood HomePoverty forced family to move out of Boyhood Home; moved in with Dr. Grant’s family above Grant’s Drug Store.

1847 March 24

Judge Clemens died. Family moves back to Boyhood Home.

1848

Sam Clemens apprenticed to Joseph Ament of Missouri Courier newspaper.

1850

Cadets of Temp Book 2Elder brother Orion returned to Hannibal in September, purchased Western Union newspaper, Sam began working for his brother. Joined Cadets of Temperance.

1852

Sam edited Orion’s newspaper while Orion was on trip. Sam submitted two sketches to Saturday Evening Post, no pay. His sketch, “The Dandy Frightening the Squatter,” was published in the May 1 issue of Carpet-Bag of Boston, Massachusetts.

1853

Sam left Hannibal in June to become a journeyman printer in St. Louis, New York and Philadelphia. Brother Orion took their mother, Jane Clemens, and Henry Clemens to Iowa, ending Clemens family residence in Hannibal.

1854

Sam visited Washington, DC in February. Summer in Muscatine, Iowa, with brother Orion on Muscatine Journal.

1855

Winter and spring in St. Louis. Went to work for brother Orion in Orion’s Daily Post, located in Keokuk, Iowa until fall of 1856.

1856

In Cincinnati, Ohio, as assistant in job printing shop.

1857

April became apprentice river pilot under Captain Horace Bixby of the Paul Jones.70300 Mississippi[1]

1859

April 9 – became fully licensed pilot. Piloted on a number of steamboats.

1861

River days ended with start of Civil War. Brief stop in Hannibal and soldiering days recalled in his story “A Private History of a Campaign that Failed.” Traveled by stage coach to Carson City, Nevada, with brother Orion who had been appointed Secretary to the Territorial Governor of Nevada, James Nye.

1862

After brief stint as a miner, Sam Clemens settled in as a reporter on the Virginia City, Nevada Territorial Enterprise in August.

1863

First used pen name Mark Twain on Enterprise.

1864

Left for California in May, began working for San Francisco Call newspaper.

1865

portable_marktwain_smallVisited Jackass Hill in California where he heard the Jumping Frog story; tried gold mining. “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog” published in 18 November issue of New York Saturday Press.

1866

Worked for Sacramento Union, sent by the paper as a correspondent to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). Upon return to California gave his first lecture on trip experiences.

1867

Went to New York via Nicaragua. Made Midwest lecture tour that included stops in St. Louis, Hannibal, Quincy and Keokuk. The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County published. Excursion trip on board steamer Quaker City to Europe and the Holy Lands (recalled in his first book, The Innocents Abroad). Brief period as secretary to Senator Stewart of Nevada in Washington, DC.

1868

Contracted for first book, The Innocents Abroad, which came out in 1869. Traveled to California to obtain the release of some of his letters published in newspapers there. Midwest lecture tour in November and December.

1869

Olivia 1870[1]Engaged to Olivia Louise Langdon of Elmira, New York on February 4. In August bought part interest in Buffalo Express newspaper and started work as an editor. First book, The Innocents Abroad, published. Lecture tour November to January, 1870.

1870

Married Olivia Langdon in Elmira on February 2, 1870. Son, Langdon, born November 7; died in infancy (1872).

1871

Trip to London, England. Moved to Hartford, Connecticut in October. Received U.S. patent for adjustable garment strap.

1872

Susy - Courtney 47[1]Daughter, Susy, born March 19. Built large house preserved today as Mark Twain House in Hartford; son Langdon dies; second travel book, Roughing It, published.

1873

Received patent for self-pasting scrapbook, one invention that made money for Mark Twain.

1874

Clara 1939Daughter Clara born June 8.

1876

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer published.

1877

Speaker at John Greenleaf Whittier’s 70th birthday celebration.

1878-79

Traveled with family to Europe: Heidelberg, Alps, Italy, Munich.

1880

Jean 1903Daughter Jean born July 26.

1882

Made trip up the Mississippi from New Orleans to Minnesota to refresh memory and gather information for Life on the Mississippi. Visited Hannibal.

1883

Life on the Mississippi published.

1884

National lecture tour with George Washington Cable, November to February 1885.

1885

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn published. Mark Twain’s publishing firm releases a best-seller, Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant, an autobiography that returned more than $350,000 to the Grant family.

1888

Received Master of Arts degree from Yale University.

1889

Met Rudyard Kipling in Elmira, New York.

1890

Visited ailing mother in Keokuk, Iowa. Later attended her funeral in Hannibal.

1891

Mark Twain’s Memory Builder Game put on the market, his third patent.

1891-95

Clemens family traveled Europe: Germany, France, Italy.

1893

Speaking successes earned Twain title “Belle of New York.”

1894

Clemens’s publishing firm facing bankruptcy following Panic of 1893.

1895-97

Clemens facing personal bankruptcy. Made twelve month round-the-world lecture tour to pay off debts. Daughter Susy died of meningitis August 18, 1896. Following the Equator published 1897.

1898

Paid last of debts in full.

1900

Traveled to England to argue copyright law before House of Lords.

1901

Received honorary doctorate degree at Yale University.

1902

Last visit to Hannibal, May 29 to June 1. Handed out graduation diplomas to Hannibal High School graduating class. On to Columbia, Missouri, to receive honorary Doctorate Degree from University of Missouri. Helped dedicate Eugene Field’s House as a museum property in St. Louis prior to visiting Hannibal.

1903

Sailed for Florence, Italy with Olivia, who was very ill.

1904

Olivia dies; returned to New York, living in brownstone at 21 Fifth Avenue.

1905

70th birthday dinner at Delmonico’s in New York. Biographer Albert Bigelow Paine joins family at their house and begins to collect dictations for Mark Twain’s Autobiography..

1907

Traveled to Oxford University in England to receive honorary doctorate degree.

1908

Moved into his last house, Stormfield, at Redding, Connecticut on 18 June. Visitors included Helen Keller and Laura Hawkins Frazer (model for Becky Thatcher).

1909

Clara Wedding small[1]Daughter Clara married Ossip Gabrilowitsch, a Russian concert pianist and conductor, at Stormfield, October 6. Daughter Jean died December 24.

1910

Last trip; went to Bermuda for health. Heart complications set in; returned home to Stormfield, died April 21. Buried in wife’s family’s plot, Woodlawn Cemetery, Elmira, New York. Halley’s Comet was in skies again.