Samuel 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.
Born prematurely at Florida, Missouri, November 30 to Judge John Marshall and Jane Lampton Clemens. Halley’s Comet was in the skies above.
Family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, where Judge J.M. Clemens, Samuel’s father, began to operate general store.
Family moved into house known as Mark Twain Boyhood Home.
Poverty 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.
Sam Clemens apprenticed to Joseph Ament of Missouri Courier newspaper.
Elder brother Orion returned to Hannibal in September, purchased Western Union newspaper, Sam began working for his brother. Joined Cadets of Temperance.
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.
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.
Sam visited Washington, DC in February. Summer in Muscatine, Iowa, with brother Orion on Muscatine Journal.
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.
In Cincinnati, Ohio, as assistant in job printing shop.
April became apprentice river pilot under Captain Horace Bixby of the Paul Jones.
April 9 – became fully licensed pilot. Piloted on a number of steamboats.
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.
After brief stint as a miner, Sam Clemens settled in as a reporter on the Virginia City, Nevada Territorial Enterprise in August.
First used pen name Mark Twain on Enterprise.
Left for California in May, began working for San Francisco Call newspaper.
Visited 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Married Olivia Langdon in Elmira on February 2, 1870. Son, Langdon, born November 7; died in infancy (1872).
Trip to London, England. Moved to Hartford, Connecticut in October. Received U.S. patent for adjustable garment strap.
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.
Received patent for self-pasting scrapbook, one invention that made money for Mark Twain.
Daughter Clara born June 8.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer published.
Speaker at John Greenleaf Whittier’s 70th birthday celebration.
Traveled with family to Europe: Heidelberg, Alps, Italy, Munich.
Daughter Jean born July 26.
Made trip up the Mississippi from New Orleans to Minnesota to refresh memory and gather information for Life on the Mississippi. Visited Hannibal.
Life on the Mississippi published.
National lecture tour with George Washington Cable, November to February 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.
Received Master of Arts degree from Yale University.
Met Rudyard Kipling in Elmira, New York.
Visited ailing mother in Keokuk, Iowa. Later attended her funeral in Hannibal.
Mark Twain’s Memory Builder Game put on the market, his third patent.
Clemens family traveled Europe: Germany, France, Italy.
Speaking successes earned Twain title “Belle of New York.”
Clemens’s publishing firm facing bankruptcy following Panic of 1893.
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.
Paid last of debts in full.
Traveled to England to argue copyright law before House of Lords.
Received honorary doctorate degree at Yale University.
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.
Sailed for Florence, Italy with Olivia, who was very ill.
Olivia dies; returned to New York, living in brownstone at 21 Fifth Avenue.
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..
Traveled to Oxford University in England to receive honorary doctorate degree.
Moved into his last house, Stormfield, at Redding, Connecticut on 18 June. Visitors included Helen Keller and Laura Hawkins Frazer (model for Becky Thatcher).
Daughter Clara married Ossip Gabrilowitsch, a Russian concert pianist and conductor, at Stormfield, October 6. Daughter Jean died December 24.
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.
SAMUEL L. CLEMENS – MARK TWAIN – GENEALOGY
The genealogy of Samuel L. Clemens, Mark Twain, brings many inquiries to the Mark Twain Museum. Mark Twain had four children, only one of whom married and had a child. Until recently, it was believed this was the end of the family line. Recently Susan Bailey has discovered that she may be Mark Twain’s great-granddaughter and the line continues.
It is possible to be related to Samuel L. Clemens, though not very directly.
Provided below is some general information that answers many inquiries made at the Mark Twain Museum.
JOHN MARSHALL CLEMENS FAMILY
SAMUEL L. CLEMENS – MARK TWAIN – SIBLINGS AND FAMILY
JOHN MARSHALL CLEMENS
b. 11 August 1798, Campbell County, VA; d. 24 March 1847, Hannibal, MO.
married JANE LAMPTON CLEMENS 6 May 1823, Columbia, KY
Jane b. 18 June 1803, Adair County, KY; d. 27 October 1890, Keokuk, IA
1. ORION CLEMENS
b. 17 July 1825, Gainesboro, TN; d. 11 December 1897, Keokuk, IA
married MARY ELEANOR “Mollie” STOTTS, 19 December 1854
1 daughter died age 9
2. PAMELA ANN CLEMENS
b. 13 September 1827, Jamestown, TN; d. 31 August 1904, Greenwich, CT
married WILLIAM ANDERSON MOFFETT 20 September 1851
A. Annie Moffett married Charles Webster
Alice Jane Webster married Glenn McKinney
William Luther Webster married Charlotte Hudgell
Samuel Charles Webster married Doris Webb
B. Samuel E. Moffett married Mary Mantz
3. PLEASANT HANNIBAL CLEMENS
b. 1828 or 1829, Jamestown, TN; died age 3 months
4. MARGARET LAMPTON CLEMENS
b. 31 May 1830, Jamestown, TN; died 17 August 1839, Florida, MO
5. BENJAMIN LAMPTON CLEMENS
b. 8 June 1832, Pall Mall, TN; d. 12 May 1842, Hannibal, MO
6. SAMUEL LANGHORNE CLEMENS (“Mark Twain”)
b. 30 November 1835, Florida, MO; d. 21 April 1910, Redding, CT
married OLIVIA “Livy” LOUISE LANGDON 2 February 1870
A. LANGDON CLEMENS
b. 7 November 1870, Buffalo, NY; d. 2 June 1872, Hartford, CT
B. OLIVIA SUSAN “Susy” CLEMENS
b. 19 March 1872, Elmira, NY; d. 18 August 1896, Hartford, CT
C. CLARA LANGDON CLEMENS
b. 8 June 1874, Elmira, NY; d. 19 November 1962, San Diego, CA
married (1) OSSIP GABRILOWITSCH 14 September 1936
1. NINA CLEMENS GABRILOWITSCH
b. 18 August 1910, Redding, CT; d. 16 January 1966, Los Angeles, CA
married (2) JACQUES SAMOSSOUD 11 May 1944
D. JANE LAMPTON “Jean” CLEMENS
b. 26 July 1880, Elmira, NY; d. 24 September 1909, Redding, CT
7. HENRY CLEMENS
b. 13 July 1838; d. 21 June 1858, Memphis, TN.
It has been believed for many years that Nina Gabrilowitsch had no children and hence the Clemens line ended. Recently Susan Bailey, while trying to find her mother, has presented a strong case that she was a child of Nina GHabrilowitsch and is Mark Twain’s great-granddaughter. Bailey has children and grandchildren.
CLEMENS ANCESTORS OF MARK TWAIN
Generation 1 is Samuel L. Clemens, Mark Twain. The other numbers refer to generations before Samuel L. Clemens.
11. Richard Clements married Elizabeth in 1535
b. 1506 Leicestershire, England
d. February 1571 in Croft, England
10. Robert Clements married (1) Alice in 1561 (2) Margaret
b. 1536 in England
d. June 1606 in Croft, England
9. Richard Clements married Agnes Fellows 2 March 1595 (she d. 1619)
b. 1570 in Croft, England
d. July 1617 in Cosby, England
8. Robert Clements married Lydia
b. December 1595 in England
d. 29 September 1658 in Haverhill, MA
came to U.S. in May 1642 after wife’s death in March
7. Robert Clements married Elizabeth Fawne in 1652 (more in Lampton)
b. 1634 in England
d. 1714 in MA
6. Abraham Clements married Hannah Gove 10 May 1683 (more in Lampton)
b. 14 July 1657 in MA
d. 1716 in Bucks County, PA
5. Ezekiel Clemens married Christina Castell in 1725
b. 1 February 1696 in MA
d. 1778 in VA
4. Jeremiah Clemens married Elizabeth Moore in 1763 (more in Lampton)
b. 1732 in NJ
d. 17 November 1811 in VA
3. Samuel B. Clemens married Pamela Goggin 29 October 1797
b. 1770 in VA
d. 1805 in Mason County, WV
2. John Marshall Clemens married Jane Lampton 6 May 1823
b. 11 August 1798 in Campbell County, VA
d. 24 March 1847 in Hannibal, MO
1. Samuel Langhorne Clemens married Olivia Langdon 2 February 1870
b. 30 November 1835 at Florida, Missouri
d. 21 April 1910 at Redding, Connecticut
This genealogical information is from the book The Genealogy of Mark Twain by Lucius Marion Lampton, M.D., copyright 1990, pages 78-79.
MARK TWAIN’S PUBLISHING CAREER
Mark Twain’s books were published at a time when international copyright did not exist. Many were released first in England to obtain the British copyright, then in the United States. Listed here are dates for release in the United States of his major works. For further information on first editions, refer to Merle Johnson’s work A Bibliography of Mark Twain or the Bibliography of American Literature.
1867 The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches
1869 The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrim’s Progress
1871 Mark Twain’s (Burlesque) Autobiography and First Romance
1872 Roughing It
1873 The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today – co-authored with Charles Dudley Warner
1875 Mark Twain’s Sketches, New and Old
1876 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
1876 Ah Sin, a play written with Bret Harte
1877 A True Story, and the Recent Carnival of Crime.
1878 Punch, Brothers, Punch!
1880 A Tramp Abroad
1880 1601, or Conversation as It Was by the Social Fireside in the Time of the Tudors
1882 The Stolen White Elephant Etc.
1882 The Prince and the Pauper: A Tale for Young People of All Ages
1883 Life on the Mississippi
1885 Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (The word “the” is not part of the title.)
1889 A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
1892 Merry Tales
1892 The American Claimant
1893 The £1,000,000 Bank-Note and Other New Stories
1894 Tom Sawyer Abroad
1894 The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson and the Comedy Those Extraordinary Twins
1896 Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc
1896 Tom Sawyer Detective
1897 How to Tell a Story and Other Essays
1897 Following the Equator
1900 The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg
1900 English as She Is Taught
1901 To the Person Sitting in Darkness
1902 A Double Barrelled Detective Story
1903 My Debut as a Literary Person with Other Essays and Stories
1903 A Dog’s Tale
1904 Extracts from Adam’s Diary Translated from the Original MS.
1905 King Leopold’s Soliloquy
1906 What is Man?
1906 Eve’s Diary
1906 The $30,000 Bequest
1907 Christian Science with Notes Containing Corrections to Date
1907 A Horse’s Tale
1909 Is Shakespeare Dead?
1909 Extract from Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven
1909 Queen Victoria’s Jubilee
Released after his death:
1910 Mark Twain’s Speeches
1916 The Mysterious Stranger: A Romance
1917 What Is Man? And Other Essays
1923 Europe and Elsewhere
1924 Mark Twain’s Autobiography (edited by Albert Bigelow Paine)
1962 Letters from the Earth
2010, 2013, 2015 Mark Twain’s Autobiography