5 Things You Didn't Know About Mark Twain

April 21, 1910 marked the death of Samuel Clemens, or, as he's better known today, Mark Twain. Here are 5 things you probably didn't know about the author of the novels 'Adventures of Tom Sawyer' and 'Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’...


The Name Mark Twain Is Boating Jargon Twain’s real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens, but he decided to write under an alias. He tried a few, such as Sergeant Fathom and Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass, before settling on Mark Twain. The name in boating language means two fathoms, which equals water that is 12-feet deep. It’s been rumored that he came up with the name because he was a steamboat pilot, but another theory is he used to yell “Mark Twain” when he went into a bar, which meant he wanted two drinks.

Twain Invented a Memory Game While Twain was procrastinating about working on “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” he was busily inventing a new game. He intended it to be a game to play outdoors, but it ended up a board game because that was more marketable. Unfortunately, it was complex and players had to be brainiacs to play it, so the game was patented but never produced. One critic compared the game to a mash-up of an income tax form and a logarithm table.


Mark Twain Was Captured on Film Thomas Edison, a good friend of Mark Twain, captured him on film footage shot in 1909, which was only a year before the famous author died. Twain is seen sporting his walrus mustache and dressed in a light-colored suit, and appears with his two daughters in one scene. At another time, Edison made a recording of Twain reading stories, but those were lost in a fire. Twain was also friends with Nikola Tesla, and he even patented some things of his own, including detachable clothing straps.

Twain Loved Cats So Much He Rented Them If Twain had been a woman, he certainly would have been called a “cat lady” because he owned 19 of the furry felines and had a high opinion of them compared to humans. He missed his pets when he was traveling, so he would actually pay to rent a few when he was out of town. The names he came up for his cats were, as one might expect, imaginative and included Blatherskite, Sour Mash, Soapy Sal, Satan, and Buffalo Bill.

Twain Accurately Predicted When He Would Die The author was born in 1835 on the day Halley’s Comet passed by our planet on November 30. The comet only passes approximately every 75 years, and Twain predicted that he came into the world when Halley's Comet arrived and would leave the world when it passed by again. He was right and died of an apparent heart attack on April 21, 1910, the day after the comet made its next appearance.