Historic Unedited Photos They Don't Want You To See
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Historic Unedited Photos They Don't Want You To See
Famous writer Mark Twain is photographed mere weeks prior to suffering the heart attack that claimed his life.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” Praised as “the father of American literature” by renowned author William Faulkner, Mark Twain was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer who got his start in Hannibal, Missouri. First working as a printer apprentice and typesetter, Twain later became a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before he ventured to Nevada to mine. Ultimately turning to journalism and working with the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, Twain discovered his passion for storytelling after one of his short stories, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” gained attention in 1865.
Over a decade later, Twain became an international icon for his novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876). He followed up with the sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in 1885 and earned a significant amount from the novels and his work as a lecturer. However, after years of poor investments and paying off longstanding debts, he was left with nothing at the time of his death on April 21, 1910, of a heart attack at 74 years old. Always a sage, Twain predicted his death the year prior when he said, “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it.” Twain died just one day after the comet’s closest approach to Earth.
Life and Career
Samuel Langhorne Clemens came into this world on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri as the sixth of seven children born to Jane and John Marshall Clemens. Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri with his three siblings that survived childhood. The port town on the Mississippi River gave Twain a pleasant upbringing filled with adventure that set the stage for his future writings in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. When Twain was 11 years old, his father died of pneumonia, which forced Twain to leave school in the fifth grade and pick up a job as a printer’s apprentice. He started working as a typesetter and lent his hand to articles for the Hannibal Journal.
At the age of 18, Twain left Missouri and moved around the country from New York City and Philadelphia to St. Louis and Cincinnati working as a printer. He studied at public libraries in the evenings and later even piloted a riverboat between New Orleans and St. Louis. Once again, the experience made a lasting impression on Twain as he eventually packed his bags and moved to Nevada where he worked with the governor before settling down in the silver-mining town of Virginia City, Nevada. Failing as a miner, he started writing short stories and moved to San Francisco in 1864 to work as a journalist. This time, he finally found success when his tall tale, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” was published in The Saturday Press.
With the story earning him national attention, Twain started lecturing and went on a tour of Europe and the Middle East. Upon his return to the United States, he was invited to join Yale University’s secret Scroll and Key Society. He also married Olivia Langdon in 1870 and started a family with the births of daughters Susy (1872), Clara (1874), and Jean (1880). With his family in tow, Twain settled down in Hartford, Connecticut where he wrote many of his classic novels in his private study on the property where he chain-smoked cigars.
Twain published The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in 1876 and followed up with other classics including The Prince and the Pauper (1881) and Life on the Mississippi (1883). He published the Tom Sawyer sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, in 1885 and published A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court in 1889. While the books and his work as a lecturer made him a substantial amount of money, Twain lost a great deal in poor investments in his other passion—new inventions and technology like the Paige typesetting machine, which was rendered obsolete by the Linotype.
Losing the bulk of his book profits and his wife’s inheritance, Twain and the family downsized their Hartford home and moved to Europe where they traveled throughout France, Germany, and Italy in the late 1800s with the hopes of improving their health and starting over fresh. Twain frequently returned to New York to lecture and recovered financially after filing bankruptcy in 1894. As a featured speaker around the United States, he divided his time between his family in Europe and his work in America before finally settling down in Manhattan, New York in 1896. This marked a period of great depression for Twain after his daughter, Susy, died of meningitis. The deaths of his wife Olivia in 1904, his daughter Jean in 1909, and his best friend Henry Rogers in 1909 only added to his increasingly poor health.
Death and Legacy
Devastated by so much loss in his life, Twain’s health declined in the early 1900s shortly after he was awarded an honorary doctorate in letters from Oxford University in 1907. Two years later, he predicted his impending death saying, “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt, “Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.”
Twain’s prediction was accurate. He died of a heart attack on April 21, 1910, at 74 years old just one day after the comet’s closest approach to the Earth. He was laid to rest next to his wife and children at Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, New York.