Trivia quiz questions with answers about Mark Twain.
Mark Twain Quiz Questions
Who was Mark Twain?
A: Mark Twain, real name Samuel Langhorne Clemens, was an
American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer.
Among his novels are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the latter often called what?
A: "The Great American Novel".
Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, which later provided the setting for what?
A: Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
Twain earned a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, but he invested in ventures that lost most of it—notably the what?
A: The Paige Compositor, a mechanical typesetter that failed because of its complexity and imprecision.
He filed for bankruptcy in the wake of these financial setbacks, but he eventually overcame his financial troubles with the help of whom?
A: Henry Huttleston Rogers.
He chose to pay all his pre-bankruptcy creditors in full, even after what?
A: Even after he had no legal responsibility to do so.
Twain was born shortly after an appearance of Halley's Comet, and what did he predict?
A: That he would "go out with it" as well.
When did he die?
A: He died the day after the comet returned.
What was Mark Twain’s birth name?
A: He was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens.
When was he born?
A: On November 30, 1835.
Where was he born?
A: In Florida, Missouri.
How many siblings did he have?
Who was his mother?
A: Jane Lampton, a native of Kentucky.
Who was his father?
A: John Marshall Clemens, a native of Virginia.
Of what ancestry was Twain?
A: He was of Cornish, English, and Scots-Irish descent.
Only three How many of his siblings survived childhood?
A: Three, Orion (1825–1897), Henry (1838–1858), and Pamela (1827–1904).
His sister Margaret died when Twain was how old?
When did his brother Benjamin die?
A: He died three years later in 1842.
When he was four, Twain's family moved to where?
A: Hannibal, Missouri, a port town on the
Mississippi River that inspired the fictional town of St. Petersburg in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Slavery was legal in Missouri at the time, and it became what?
A: A theme in these writings.
What was his father’s occupation?
A: He was an attorney and judge.
What did he die of?
A: He died of pneumonia in 1847, when Twain was 11.
The next year, Twain left school after the fifth grade to become what?
A: A printer's apprentice.
In 1851 he began working as a what?
A: A typesetter, contributing articles and humorous sketches to the Hannibal Journal, a newspaper that Orion owned.
When he was 18, he left Hannibal and worked where, as a printer?
A: In New York City, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Cincinnati, joining the newly formed
International Typographical Union, the printers trade union.
How did he educate himself?
A: In public libraries in the evenings, finding wider information than at a conventional school.
Twain describes his boyhood in Life on the Mississippi, stating what?
A: That "there was but one permanent ambition" among his comrades: to be a steam boatman.
Pilot was the what?
A: The grandest position of all.
The pilot, even in those days of trivial wages, had a princely salary of how much?
A: From a hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty dollars a month, and no board to pay.
As Twain describes it, the pilot's prestige exceeded that of the what?
A: The captain.
Steamboat pilot Horace E. Bixby took Twain on as a what?
A: A cub pilot to teach him the river between New Orleans and St. Louis for $500 (equivalent to $14,000 in 2017), payable out of Twain's first wages after graduating.
What did Twain study?
A: The Mississippi, learning its landmarks, how to navigate its currents effectively, and how to read the river.
It was how long before he received his pilot's license?
A: More than two years.
Piloting also gave him his pen name from "mark twain", the leadsman's cry for what?
A: A measured river depth of two fathoms (12 feet), which was safe water for a steamboat.
While training, who did Samuel convince to work with him?
A: His younger brother Henry.
Henry was killed on June 21, 1858, when what happened?
A: Their steamboat Pennsylvania exploded.
Twain claimed to have foreseen this death in a what?
A: A dream a month earlier.
It is what inspired his interest in what?
A: Parapsychology; he was an early member of the Society for Psychical Research.
Twain was guilt-stricken and held himself what?
A: Responsible for the rest of his life.
He continued to work on the river and was a river pilot until when?
A: Until the Civil War broke out in 1861, when traffic was curtailed along the Mississippi River.
At the start of hostilities what did he do?
A: He enlisted briefly in a local Confederate unit.
He later wrote the sketch "The Private History of a Campaign That Failed", describing how he and his friends had been what?
A: Confederate volunteers for two weeks before disbanding.
He then left for Nevada to work for whom?
A: Orion, who was Secretary of the Nevada Territory.
The brothers traveled more than two weeks on a stagecoach across the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, visiting what community in Salt Lake City?
A: The Mormon community.
Twain's journey ended in the
silver-mining town of Virginia City, Nevada, where he became a what?
A: A miner on the Comstock Lode.
He failed as a miner and went to work where?
A: At the Virginia City newspaper
Territorial Enterprise, working under a friend, the writer Dan DeQuille.
He first used his pen name here on February 3, 1863, when he wrote a humorous travel account entitled what?
A: "Letter From Carson – re: Joe Goodman; party at Gov. Johnson's;
music" and signed it "Mark Twain".
His experiences in the American West inspired what?
A: Roughing It, written during 1870–71 and published in 1872.
His experiences in Angels Camp (in Calaveras County,
California) provided material for what?
A: "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" (1865).
When did Twain move to San Francisco?
A: In 1864, still as a journalist, and met writers such as Bret Harte and Artemus Ward.
He may have been romantically involved with what poet?
A: The poet Ina Coolbrith.
When did his first success as a writer come?
A: When his humorous tall tale "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" was published on November 18, 1865, in the
New York weekly The Saturday Press, bringing him national attention.
A year later where did he traveled to?
A: To the Sandwich Islands (present-day Hawaii) as a reporter for the Sacramento Union.
His letters to the Union were popular and became the basis for what?
A: His first lectures.
When did Mark Twain and Olivia Langdon marry?
A: In February 1870.
Where did the couple live from 1869 to 1871?
A: They lived in Buffalo, New York.
While they were living in Buffalo, their son Langdon died of what at the age of 19 months?
They had three daughters: Susy (1872–1896), Clara (1874–1962), and Jean (1880–1909).
In the 1870s and 1880s, the family summered at Quarry Farm in Elmira, the home of whom?
A: Olivia's sister, Susan Crane.
Susan had a study built apart from the main house for what?
For Twain to write in.
How long did the couple's marriage last?
A: 34 years until Olivia's death in 1904.
Where are all of the Clemens family buried?
A: In Elmira's Woodlawn Cemetery.