Author, Author

Mark Twain was (and still is today, in my mind) one of the best authors America has ever had to offer. His agile mind never missed a trick of human nature, nor an opportunity to make fun of himself and those around him. My all time favorite book, Letters from Earth, is a must read, if you haven’t already.

Below, (editorial comment mine & in bold) what he has to say about authors:


I have been an author for 20 years and an ass for 55. (I’m working on getting there myself)
Mark Twain, a Biography

Experience is an author’s most valuable asset; experience is the thing that puts the muscle and the breath and the warm blood into the book he writes. (No argument there)
Is Shakespeare Dead

Authorship is not a trade, it is an inspiration; authorship does not keep an office, its habitation is all out under the sky, and everywhere the winds are blowing and the sun is shining and the creatures of God are free. (Can I get a witness?)
– A petition to the Queen of England, 1887 (plea for exemption from English tax on royalties)

An author values a compliment even when it comes from a source of doubtful competency. (Yes, we are comment whores, aren’t we?)
Mark Twain’s Autobiography

I never saw an author who was aware that there is any dimensional difference between a fact and a surmise. (Can you say, poetic license?)
– quoted in My Father Mark Twain, by Clara Clemens

There are three infallible ways of pleasing an author, and the three form a rising scale of compliment: 1, To tell him you have read one of his books; 2, To tell him you have read all of his books; 3, To ask him to let you read the manuscripts of his forthcoming book. No. 1 admits you to his respect; no. 2 admits you to his admiration; No. 3 carries you clear into his heart. (The secrets to a writer’s heart)
Pudd’nhead Wilson

9 thoughts on “Author, Author

  1. Some great thoughts there by some great minds…..Just think, in about a hundred years someone will be doing a blog post on this very topic and they’ll be using a quote from you!

    LOL – yeah like one of my really profound quotes like ‘really stupid shit is a good search term’ or something like that? 😉

    PS: I know you were being nice but something about compliments makes me make fun of myself.


  2. Hi WC,

    We actually have some letters from Mark Twain. At one time a famous poet stayed in this house for a spell, Virginia Frazer Boyle, and she was a pen pal of Mr. Clemens. In her autograph book, there is an original satirical verse to the Star Spangled Banner penned by Twain. Unfortunately, that bit of history went to another branch of the family.

    the Grit

    Hey Grit,
    I would love to see those letters. What do they say? Anything juicy and fun? I think it would be fascinating to discover what someone like Mark Twain thought about things – in an informal, personal letter. Come on, give!

    Too bad you couldn’t snag them for your side of the family. Bummer.


  3. Mark Twain and I share a birthday. He is a brilliant man. I wish more people would ‘tell it like it is’ like he did. Pragmatist.

    I tagged you. 🙂

    Wow Lass, that is cool. I love ol’ Mr. Clemmens – hysterically funny dude.

    I saw that tag – I’ll have to think on that – should be interesting.


  4. while he’s not on my list of personal faves, I agree that he was an amazing writer whom all writers can learn a great deal from.


    Hi EK and welcome. Who are some of your favorites?


  5. Hi WC,

    It’s been a while since I’ve read them and, of course, we keep them in a safe deposit box, so getting to them is no easy task. As I recall, it was just friendly chat. We have a very historic house, at least for this area. The old part was built in 1842, on the first land grant in Shelby County. At one time our farm was 4,000 acres, although it is only a tiny fraction of that now. It is the oldest continuously producing farm in the county.

    Can you tell that I repeat that frequently 🙂 If you are ever in Memphis, let me know and I’ll give you the tour.

    the Grit

    Hi Grit,
    Sounds wonderful. A historic, southern farm. The stories you could tell, I’m sure. I certainly will let you know if I’m ever out Memphis way. Though I thought you were a Texan all this time. Go figure. At least I knew you were a southern gentleman. 😉


  6. I agree Twain was in a class all by himself. Some great quotes here, I hadn’t read that book either, better add it to my list. Anabel

    It’s very strange and very funny. Must have been quite controversial in his day.


  7. I guess Mark Twain would have been a comment whore, too.

    I’ve never read “Letters from the Earth.” I’m going to have to read it. Maybe you should just make me a book list, WC. Every time I seem to stop by there’s some new book I find out about. 🙂


    Yeah, see…I think he would have been a comment whore too! And can you imagine the rants he would have posted? Try to find some of his editorials and that will give you an idea.

    “Letters” is one of those great little treasures that is fun to read.

    You have a great book list, Kelsey – but I’m flattered you are interested in checking out the books I go on and on about.


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