Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born November 30, 1835 – died April 21, 1910.  Better known by the pen name Mark Twain, was an American humanist, humorist, satirist, lecturer and writer. Twain is most noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which has since been called the Great American Novel, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He is also known for his quotations. During his lifetime, Twain became a friend to presidents, artists, leading industrialists and European royalty. Twain enjoyed immense public popularity, and his keen wit and incisive satire earned him praise from both critics and peers. American author William Faulkner called Twain “the father of American literature.” Twain used different pen names (pseudonyms or “noms de plume”) before deciding on “Mark Twain”. He signed humorous and imaginative sketches “Josh” until 1863. Additionally, he used the pen name “Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass” for a series of humorous letters. He maintained that his primary pen name came from his years working on Mississippi riverboats, where two fathoms, a depth indicating “safe water” for the boat to float over, was measured on the sounding line. A fathom is a maritime unit of depth, equivalent to two yards (six feet, approximately 1.8 metres); “twain” is an archaic term for “two”. The riverboatman’s cry was “mark twain” or, more fully, “by the mark twain”, meaning “according to the mark [on the line], [the depth is] two [fathoms]”, that is, “there are 12 feet of water under the boat and it is safe to pass”. Twain claimed that his famous pen name was not entirely his invention. In Life on the Mississippi, he wrote: Captain Isaiah Sellers was not of literary turn or capacity, but he used to jot down brief paragraphs of plain practical information about the river, and sign them “MARK TWAIN,” and give them to the New Orleans Picayune. They related to the stage and condition of the river, and were accurate and valuable; … At the time that the telegraph brought the news of his death, I was on the Pacific coast. I was a fresh new journalist, and needed a nom de guerre; so I confiscated the ancient mariner’s discarded one, and have done my best to make it remain what it was in his hands—a sign and symbol and warrant that whatever is found in its company may be gambled on as being the petrified truth; how I have succeeded, it would not be modest in me to say. Twain’s version of the story regarding his nom de plume is not without detractors and has been called into question by biographer George Williams III, the Territorial Enterprise newspaper and Purdue University’s Paul Fatout. These sources claim that “mark twain” refers to a running bar tab that Clemens would regularly incur while drinking at John Piper’s saloon in Virginia City, Nevada.


Original Mark Twain(Samuel Langhorne Clemens) Autograph, signed on Cut paper. Approx. Size of Paper 1 1/2 x 3 1/4 inches. Regular Price – $ 1895.00 / Sale Price – $ 1295.00.

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