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Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the idea of life. --Mark Twain. Notebooks and Journals, 1898.

Sam Clemens as a printer's apprentice, around age 14

Courtesy of The Mark Twain Project, Bancroft Library, Berkeley
1835 Born in Florida, Missouri. Halley’s comet visible from earth.
1839 Moves to Hannibal, Missouri, which later serves as the model town for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
1847 Father dies, leaving family in difficult circumstances.

1851 Begins work as a journeyman printer with the Hannibal Gazette. Publishes first sketches.


Courtesy of Littleton Public Library
1853 Visits St. Louis, New York, and Philadelphia as an itinerant printer.
1857 Becomes a cub-pilot for Horace Bixby. Spends next two years “learning” the river, later described in Life on the Mississippi.


Clemens in 1867

Courtesy of The Mark Twain House, Hartford
1858 Brother Henry killed in steamboat accident on the Pennsylvania.
1861 Civil War breaks out, halting river trade. Clemens serves two weeks with Confederate irregulars, then moves to Nevada with his brother Orion.
1862 Travels around Nevada and California. Takes job as reporter for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise.

1851 Forced to leave Nevada for breaking dueling laws. Prospects in Calaveras County, settles in San Francisco. Writes for magazines and newspapers.

Samuel Clemens with his brother Charles, 1868

Courtesy of The Mark Twain Project, Bancroft Library, Berkeley
1865 Writes “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog.” Wins notice in eastern magazines.
1866 Takes trip to Hawaii as correspondent of the Sacramento Alta Californian. Reports on shipwreck of the Hornet. Gives first public lecture.


Olivia Clemens, 1895

Courtesy of The Mark Twain House, Hartford
1867 Travels as correspondent to Europe and the Holy Land on the Quaker City. Sees a picture of Olivia Langdon (Livy). Publishes The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other Sketches. Sales are light.
1868 Lectures across the United States. Meets and falls in love with Livy in Elmira, New York.
1869 Engaged to Livy. The Innocents Abroad published as a subscription book. It's an instant best seller.

1870 Marries Livy in Elmira. Her father buys them a house in Buffalo, New York. Son Langdon is born.

Samuel and Livy Clemens on the porch of their house in Hartford, 1885. (Livy, Clara, Jean (sitting), Sam Clemens, Susy)

Courtesy of The Mark Twain House, Hartford
1872 Moves with Livy to Hartford. Publishes Roughing It. Daughter is born. Son Langdon dies.
1873 Invents and patents Mark Twain’s Self-Pasting Scrapbook. Publishes The Gilded Age.


The Clemens home on Farmington Ave, Hartford, CT

Courtesy of The Mark Twain House, Hartford
1874 Daughter Clara is born. Moves into fanciful Nook Farm house in Hartford.
1876 Publishes Tom Sawyer.
1880 Begins investment in the Paige typesetter. Publishes A Tramp Abroad. Daughter Jean is born.

1881 Publishes Prince and the Pauper. Pays for Karl Gerhadt to Europe to study sculpture.

Clemens at his writing desk, Quarry Farm, Elmira, NY, 1874

Courtesy of Center for Mark Twain Studies, Elmira
1883 Publishes Life on the Mississippi.
1884 Publishes The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in London, American edition comes out the next year. Founds own publishing company, Charles L. Webster & Co.


Twain on Cigar box

Courtesy of Nick Karanovich
1885 Clemens turns 50. Publishes the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, which is now considered a literary classic.
1889 Publishes A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Widely panned.
1890 Buys all rights in the Paige typesetter. Mother Jane Lampton Clemens dies.

1891 Leaves Hartford to live in Europe because of financial difficulties.

Mark Twain aboard the U.S.S. Mohican, 1895

Courtesy of Nick Karanovich
1894 Publishes Pudd’nhead Wilson. Charles L. Webster & Co fails. Effectively bankrupt. Gives power of attorney to Henry Huddleston Rogers.
1895 Goes on worldwide lecture tour to restore finances.


Twain holding book

Courtesy of Library of Congress
1896 Continues to lecture around the world. Daughter Susie dies.
1898 Finishes paying off creditors.
1902 Livy falls seriously ill.

1904 Livy dies. Begins dictating autobiography. Moves to New York City.

Samuel Clemens at 70th birthday party with friends, December 1905

Courtesy of Library of Congress
1905 Guest of Teddy Roosevelt at White House. Banquet for his 70th birthday at Delmonico’s in New York.
1906 Speaks frequently. Addresses congressional committee on copyright issues.
Official biographer Albert Bigelow Paine moves in. Daughter Jean committed to institution.


Clemens at age 72, smoking a pipe in his NY apartment, 1907

Courtesy of The Mark Twain House, Hartford
1908 Moves into “Stormfield” in Redding, CT. Forms the “Angelfish Club” for young girls.
1909 Daughter Jean dies at Stormfield.
1910 Visits Bermuda for the last time. Dies at Stormfield, buried in Elmira. Halley’s comet visible from earth.
This chronology is based on the extensive timeline found at the beginning R. Kent Rasmussen’s Mark Twain A to Z. The book is an invaluable resource for anyone writing about, doing research on, or simply trying to enjoy the works of Mark Twain.