The Big Read Blog (Archive)


Washington, DC

Stereographic portrait of Mark Twain circa 1907. From Library of Congress, Underwood and Underwood collection.

Happy Birthday to Mark Twain---nee Samuel Langhorne Clemens---who was born in Florida, Missouri, on this day in 1835.  To celebrate, here's the printer's-apprentice-turned-steamboat-pilot-turned-journalist-turned-fiction-writer on the art and craft of writing.

"There is no such thing as 'the Queen's Engilsh.' The property has gone into the hands of a joint stock company and we own the bulk of the shares!" (from Following the Equator)

"I never write 'metropolis' for seven cents, because I can get the same money for 'city.' I never write 'policeman,' because I can get the same price for 'cop.'" (from "Spelling and Pictures")

"The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter---it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning." (from an 1888 letter)

Check out The Big Read educational materials to learn more about Mark Twain and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Visit The Big Read calendar to find out who's reading, discussing, and celebrating Mark Twain near you.

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