115 Facts About Mark Twain


Samuel Langhorne Clemens, known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer.

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Mark Twain was lauded as the "greatest humorist the United States has produced", and William Faulkner called him "the father of American literature".

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Mark Twain's novels include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), the latter of which has often been called the "Great American Novel".

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Mark Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, which later provided the setting for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

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Mark Twain served an apprenticeship with a printer and then worked as a typesetter, contributing articles to the newspaper of his older brother Orion Clemens.

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Mark Twain later became a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before heading west to join Orion in Nevada.

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Mark Twain referred humorously to his lack of success at mining, turning to journalism for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise.

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Mark Twain earned a great deal of money from his writings and lectures but invested in ventures that lost most of it—such as the Paige Compositor, a mechanical typesetter that failed because of its complexity and imprecision.

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Mark Twain eventually paid all his creditors in full, even though his bankruptcy relieved him of having to do so.

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Mark Twain was born shortly after an appearance of Halley's Comet, and he predicted that he would "go out with it" as well, dying the day after the comet made its closest approach to Earth.

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Mark Twain's father was an attorney and judge who died of pneumonia in 1847, when Twain was 11.

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The following year, Mark Twain left school after the fifth grade to become a printer's apprentice.

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Mark Twain educated himself in public libraries in the evenings, finding wider information than at a conventional school.

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Mark Twain describes his boyhood in Life on the Mississippi, stating that "there was but one permanent ambition" among his comrades: to be a steamboatman.

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Mark Twain claimed to have foreseen this death in a dream a month earlier, which inspired his interest in parapsychology; he was an early member of the Society for Psychical Research.

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Mark Twain was guilt-stricken and held himself responsible for the rest of his life.

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Mark Twain continued to work on the river and was a river pilot until the Civil War broke out in 1861, when traffic was curtailed along the Mississippi River.

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Mark Twain later wrote the sketch "The Private History of a Campaign That Failed", describing how he and his friends had been Confederate volunteers for two weeks before their unit disbanded.

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Mark Twain then left for Nevada to work for his brother Orion, who was Secretary of the Nevada Territory.

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Mark Twain's journey ended in the silver-mining town of Virginia City, Nevada, where he became a miner on the Comstock Lode.

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Mark Twain failed as a miner and went to work at the Virginia City newspaper Territorial Enterprise, working under a friend, the writer Dan DeQuille.

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Mark Twain moved to San Francisco in 1864, still as a journalist, and met writers such as Bret Harte and Artemus Ward.

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Mark Twain wrote a collection of travel letters which were later compiled as The Innocents Abroad.

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Mark Twain later claimed to have fallen in love at first sight.

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Mark Twain's came from a "wealthy but liberal family"; through her, he met abolitionists, "socialists, principled atheists and activists for women's rights and social equality", including Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, and utopian socialist writer William Dean Howells, who became a long-time friend.

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Mark Twain owned a stake in the Buffalo Express newspaper and worked as an editor and writer.

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Mark Twain later wrote that the Grays were "'all the solace' he and Livy had during their 'sorrowful and pathetic brief sojourn in Buffalo'", and that Gray's "delicate gift for poetry" was wasted working for a newspaper.

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In November 1872, Mark Twain was a passenger on the Cunard Line steamship Batavia which rescued the nine surviving crew of the British barque Charles Ward.

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Mark Twain witnessed the rescue, and wrote to the Royal Humane Society recommending them to honour Batavias captain and the lifeboat's crew.

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Mark Twain wrote many of his classic novels during his 17 years in Hartford and over 20 summers at Quarry Farm.

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Mark Twain developed a close and lasting friendship with Nikola Tesla, and the two spent much time together in Tesla's laboratory.

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Mark Twain patented three inventions, including an "Improvement in Adjustable and Detachable Straps for Garments" and a history trivia game.

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Mark Twain was an early proponent of fingerprinting as a forensic technique, featuring it in a tall tale in Life on the Mississippi and as a central plot element in the novel Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894).

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Mark Twain made a substantial amount of money through his writing, but he lost a great deal through investments.

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Mark Twain invested mostly in new inventions and technology, particularly the Paige typesetting machine.

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Mark Twain spent $300, 000 on it between 1880 and 1894, but before it could be perfected it was rendered obsolete by the Linotype.

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Mark Twain lost the bulk of his book profits, as well as a substantial portion of his wife's inheritance.

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Mark Twain accepted an offer from Robert Sparrow Smythe and embarked on a year-long around-the-world lecture tour in July 1895 to pay off his creditors in full, although he was no longer under any legal obligation to do so.

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Mark Twain's scheduled lecture in Honolulu, Hawaii, had to be canceled due to a cholera epidemic.

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Mark Twain went on to Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, India, Mauritius, and South Africa.

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Mark Twain wrote that he had "never seen any place that was so satisfactorily situated, with its noble trees and stretch of country, and everything that went to make life delightful, and all within a biscuit's throw of the metropolis of the world.

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Mark Twain was in great demand as a featured speaker, performing solo humorous talks similar to modern stand-up comedy.

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Mark Twain gave paid talks to many men's clubs, including the Authors' Club, Beefsteak Club, Vagabonds, White Friars, and Monday Evening Club of Hartford.

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Mark Twain was told that only three men had been so honored, including the Prince of Wales, and he replied: "Well, it must make the Prince feel mighty fine.

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Mark Twain delivered the speech "Die Schrecken der Deutschen Sprache"—in German—to the great amusement of the audience.

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In 1881, Mark Twain was honored at a banquet in Montreal, Canada where he made reference to securing a copyright.

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Mark Twain estimated that Belford Brothers' edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer alone had cost him ten thousand dollars.

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Mark Twain had unsuccessfully attempted to secure the rights for The Prince and the Pauper in 1881, in conjunction with his Montreal trip.

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Mark Twain lived in his later years at 14 West 10th Street in Manhattan.

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Mark Twain passed through a period of deep depression which began in 1896 when his daughter Susy died of meningitis.

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Mark Twain was resistant initially, but he eventually admitted that four of the resulting images were the finest ones ever taken of him.

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In 1906 Mark Twain formed the Angel Fish and Aquarium Club, for girls whom he viewed as surrogate granddaughters.

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Mark Twain exchanged letters with his "Angel Fish" girls and invited them to concerts and the theatre and to play games.

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Mark Twain wrote in 1908 that the club was his "life's chief delight".

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Mark Twain was born two weeks after Halley's Comet's closest approach in 1835; he said in 1909:.

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Mark Twain's prediction was eerily accurate; he died of a heart attack on April 21, 1910, in Stormfield, one day after the comet's closest approach to Earth.

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Mark Twain gave pleasure – real intellectual enjoyment – to millions, and his works will continue to give such pleasure to millions yet to come … His humor was American, but he was nearly as much appreciated by Englishmen and people of other countries as by his own countrymen.

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Mark Twain's funeral was at the Brick Presbyterian Church on Fifth Avenue, New York.

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Mark Twain is buried in his wife's family plot at Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, New York.

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Mark Twain expressed a preference for cremation, but he acknowledged that his surviving family would have the last word.

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Mark Twain began his career writing light, humorous verse, but he became a chronicler of the vanities, hypocrisies, and murderous acts of mankind.

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Mark Twain was a master of rendering colloquial speech and helped to create and popularize a distinctive American literature built on American themes and language.

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Complete bibliography of Mark Twain's works is nearly impossible to compile because of the vast number of pieces he wrote and his use of several different pen names.

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Additionally, a large portion of his speeches and lectures have been lost or were not recorded; thus, the compilation of Mark Twain's works is an ongoing process.

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Mark Twain was writing for the Virginia City newspaper the Territorial Enterprise in 1863 when he met lawyer Tom Fitch, editor of the competing newspaper Virginia Daily Union and known as the "silver-tongued orator of the Pacific".

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Mark Twain credited Fitch with giving him his "first really profitable lesson" in writing.

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Mark Twain had started Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and had completed his travel book A Tramp Abroad, which describes his travels through central and southern Europe.

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Some say that Mark Twain experienced a "failure of nerve, " as critic Leo Marx puts it.

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Mark Twain next focused on A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, written with the same historical fiction style as The Prince and the Pauper.

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Mark Twain's next venture was a work of straight fiction that he called Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc and dedicated to his wife.

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Mark Twain had long said that this was the work that he was most proud of, despite the criticism that he received for it.

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Mark Twain famously derided James Fenimore Cooper in his article detailing Cooper's "Literary Offenses".

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Mark Twain became an extremely outspoken critic of other authors and other critics; he suggested that, before praising Cooper's work, Thomas Lounsbury, Brander Matthews, and Wilkie Collins "ought to have read some of it".

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Mark Twain's wife died in 1904 while the couple were staying at the Villa di Quarto in Florence.

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Mark Twain's manuscripts included three versions, written between 1897 and 1905: the so-called Hannibal, Eseldorf, and Print Shop versions.

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Mark Twain lived for two decades in a house in Hartford, Connecticut, and the American Publishing Company in that city published the first edition of several of his books.

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Mark Twain was a staunch supporter of technological progress and commerce.

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Mark Twain was against welfare measures, because he believed that society in the "business age" is governed by "exact and constant" laws that should not be "interfered with for the accommodation of any individual or political or religious faction".

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Mark Twain believed strongly in laissez faire, thought personal political rights secondary to property rights, admired self-made plutocrats, and advocated a leadership to be composed of men of wealth and brains.

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Mark Twain wrote glowingly about unions in the river boating industry in Life on the Mississippi, which was read in union halls decades later.

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Mark Twain supported the labor movement, especially one of the most important unions, the Knights of Labor.

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Mark Twain said the war with Spain in 1898 was "the worthiest" war ever fought.

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Mark Twain loves his country better than he does the countries of other people.

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From 1901, soon after his return from Europe, until his death in 1910, Mark Twain was vice-president of the American Anti-Imperialist League, which opposed the annexation of the Philippines by the United States and had "tens of thousands of members".

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Mark Twain was critical of imperialism in other countries as well.

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In Following the Equator, Mark Twain expresses "hatred and condemnation of imperialism of all stripes".

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Mark Twain was highly critical of European imperialists such as Cecil Rhodes and King Leopold II of Belgium, both of whom attempted to establish colonies on the African continent during the Scramble for Africa.

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Eight days later, Mark Twain wrote to his friend Daniel Carter Beard, to whom he had read the story, "I don't think the prayer will be published in my time.

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Mark Twain acknowledged that he had originally sympathized with the more moderate Girondins of the French Revolution and then shifted his sympathies to the more radical Sansculottes, indeed identifying himself as "a Marat" and writing that the Reign of Terror paled in comparison to the older terrors that preceded it.

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Mark Twain supported the revolutionaries in Russia against the reformists, arguing that the Tsar must be got rid of by violent means, because peaceful ones would not work.

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Mark Twain summed up his views of revolutions in the following statement:.

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Mark Twain paid for at least one black person to attend Yale Law School and for another black person to attend a southern university to become a minister.

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Mark Twain's heart is a cesspool of falsehood, of treachery, and of low and devilish instincts.

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Mark Twain was a supporter of women's suffrage, as evidenced by his "Votes for Women" speech, given in 1901.

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Mark Twain offered to purchase for her use her former house in Canterbury, home of the Canterbury Female Boarding School, but she declined.

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Mark Twain was critical of organized religion and certain elements of Christianity through his later life.

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Mark Twain generally avoided publishing his most controversial opinions on religion in his lifetime, and they are known from essays and stories that were published later.

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Mark Twain did state that "the goodness, the justice, and the mercy of God are manifested in His works", but that "the universe is governed by strict and immutable laws", which determine "small matters", such as who dies in a pestilence.

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In 1901, Mark Twain criticized the actions of the missionary Dr William Scott Ament because Ament and other missionaries had collected indemnities from Chinese subjects in the aftermath of the Boxer Uprising of 1900.

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Mark Twain raised money to build a Presbyterian Church in Nevada in 1864.

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Mark Twain created a reverent portrayal of Joan of Arc, a subject over which he had obsessed for forty years, studied for a dozen years and spent two years writing about.

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Mark Twain was initiated an Entered Apprentice on May 22, 1861, passed to the degree of Fellow Craft on June 12, and raised to the degree of Master Mason on July 10.

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Mark Twain visited Salt Lake City for two days and met there members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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Mark Twain was opposed to the vivisection practices of his day.

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Mark Twain's objection was not on a scientific basis but rather an ethical one.

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Mark Twain specifically cited the pain caused to the animal as his basis of his opposition:.

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Mark Twain signed humorous and imaginative sketches as "Josh" until 1863.

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Mark Twain maintained that his primary pen name came from his years working on Mississippi riverboats, where two fathoms, a depth indicating water safe for the passage of boat, was a measure on the sounding line.

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Mark Twain is an archaic term for "two", as in "The veil of the temple was rent in twain.

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Mark Twain said that his famous pen name was not entirely his invention.

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Samuel Clemens himself responded to this suggestion by saying, "Mark Twain was the nom de plume of one Captain Isaiah Sellers, who used to write river news over it for the New Orleans Picayune.

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Mark Twain died in 1863 and as he could no longer need that signature, I laid violent hands upon it without asking permission of the proprietor's remains.

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For many years he had occasionally written brief paragraphs concerning the river and the changes which it had undergone under his observation during fifty years, and had signed these paragraphs "Mark Twain" and published them in the St Louis and New Orleans journals.

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Mark Twain had never been held up to ridicule before; he was sensitive, and he never got over the hurt which I had wantonly and stupidly inflicted upon his dignity.

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Evidence suggests that Mark Twain began wearing white suits on the lecture circuit, after the death of his wife in 1904.

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