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Top Fives: Mark Twain Facts and Mark Twain Memorabilia


mark-twainAccording to The Guardian’s web site, a collection of heretofore unpublished stores by Mark Twain will be released in April, almost 99 years after the satirist’s death. I absolutely love the quote from Twain that the Guardian included: “”You had better shove this in the stove,” Mark Twain wrote to his brother in 1865, “for I don’t want any absurd ‘literary remains’ and ‘unpublished letters of Mark Twain’ published after I am planted.”

Clearly, the man knew what was up.

I’m so glad it’s being published. Everything I’ve read of Mark Twain, be it novels, stories or personal letters has been witty, insightful and hilarious.

The title of the collection, Who is Mark Twain? is a reference to Twain’s essay Frank Fuller and My First New York Lecture, included in the book. In the essay, Twain relates how – anxious that no one would attend – he plastered New York with advertisements to promote his talk. He later observed two men looking at the ads. One asked, “Who is Mark Twain?”, to which the other responded: “God knows – I don’t.”

In honor of this great news, I’ve put together a ‘Top 5 Interesting Mark Twain Facts’ and a ‘Top 5 Interesting Mark Twain Items Available On AbeBooks’. Enjoy!

Five Fun Twain Snippets:

1. Mark Twain’s real name was Samuel Clemens. That’s pretty well known. But did you know his middle name was Langhorne? mark-twain2

2. In 1857 at age 22, Clemens decided he wanted to be a steamboat pilot. He studied the Mississippi River painstakingly for two years before receiving his license in 1859. He continued to pilot steamboats until 1861, when the civil war broke out.

3.The pseudonym Mark Twain, meant “two fathoms deep” on the Mississippi, and was called out on the steamboat to indicate the boat was in sufficiently deep water. Clemens first used the name in a publication on February 3, 1863, in a piece he contributed to the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise.

4. Twain received a Doctorate in Letters from Oxford University in 1907

5. Twain was very interested in parapsychology; he foresaw his brother Henry’s death in a vivid and detailed dream (which came to pass) and even predicted the timing of his own death with some accuracy.

Top Five Collectible Mark Twain on AbeBooks:

Letter from Mark Twain to a Friend 1. Funny Letter By Mark Twain to a Friend in which he amusedly recounts that reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated; apparently a Mark twain impersonator had been traipsing about enjoying Twain’s fame, when he died, and was buried, as Mark Twain. $15,000.00

2. Hand-inscribed photograph of Mark Twain in a 3 piece suit. Inscribed: “To Edward Quintaro, greeting & all good wishes. One of the most striking differences between a cat & a lie is, that a cat has only nine lives. [Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar – Truly yours, Mark Twain. Jan. 1905″. $25,000.00

celebrated-jumping-frog-mark-twain 3. The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other Sketches. A bright, spectacular copy of the first printing of Mark Twain’s first book, published in an edition of only 1000 copies, with the inserted ad leaf before the title page and undamaged type in folio 21 and in the last lines of pages 66 and 198. In the traditionally preferred blue cloth with the traditionally preferred gilt frog in the center of the front cover. Twain’s presentation copy to his mother was in blue cloth. $28,750.00

4. Autograph Letter Signed Celebrating His Engagement To Olivia Langdon. To his close friend, the Rev. Joseph Hopkins Twichell, three pages, purple ink on lined paper; Norwich, New York, December 12, [1868]. An absolutely fantastic letter showing excitement over his engagement. Excerpt: “She simply calls things by their right names & goes straight at the appalling subject of matrimony with the most amazing effrontery.” Twain and Langdon were married 34 years, until Langdon’s death. $22,000.00

autograph-edition-mark-twain-writings 5. #4 of 512 Autographed copies of the Writings of Mark Twain Signed by Mark Twain. With five raised bands on the spine gilt titling, and a gilt floral design on the spine and front covers, with doublures of green and dark red-brown morocco with a gilt design of floral sprays, gilt borders, gray silk endpapers, top-edges gilt. Some of the spine ends, outer hinges, or cover corners show light wear, rubbing to the leather. With the bookplates of Cleveland, Ohio based book collector, William G. Mather (1857-1951), on the backs of the front endpapers. $42,500.00

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Beth Carswell

About Beth Carswell

I've been reading, selling, researching, loving and writing about books with AbeBooks since 2000.

9 Responses to “Top Fives: Mark Twain Facts and Mark Twain Memorabilia”

  1. I think in your list of top 5 facts about Mark Twain, your #2 fact should read “He continued to pilot steamboats until 1861, when the civil war broke out.” NOT 1961. It kind of made me chuckle to read the line with the typo.

  2. Beth Carswell

    Whoops – fixed! Thanks for the keen eye, Alice.

  3. rod macdonald May 14, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    to Alice,

    the rumors of his death have been greatly exagerated.

  4. I think Mark Twain was a remarkable person!!

  5. I think this would be a great source of research if you would put more stuff on it! :) Thanks!

  6. i absolutley love mark twains writing. charmable reed am i right?

  7. i think mark twain was an exceptional man (: it would be great to be able to go back in his time and talk to him.

  8. I’ve always admired Mark Twain… we are learning about him now. And to Alice W., it doesn’t say 1961. The date is correct.

  9. Huckle Berry Finn and Tom Sawyer are my favorite books by Mark Twain!!!!!! :)

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