List of Topics

SfC Home > History > Biographies >

Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain):
Ages 40 to 59

by Ron Kurtus (updated 19 January 2022)

By the time he was 40 years old, Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) was a popular and successful writer and lecturer. He continued to write and travel in his later years, but he also was involved in some disastrous business ventures that drove him into bankruptcy.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Ages 40 to 49: 1875-84

Twain traveled, wrote several books and lectured during his 40s.


When he was 40, his novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published. It was a popular book and added to his appeal as an entertaining lecturer.


In 1878-79 he took his family to Europe, where they spent their time touring the countries. It was during this period that he was joined by a friend, the Rev. Joseph H. Twichell, of Hartford, and the two made a journey. Twain then wrote the story A Tramp Abroad, based on their trip.


Twain still thought of other ways to make money. His curiosity and imagination led him to invent the suspenders, for which he received a patent on December 19, 1881.


In 1882, Twain wrote The Prince and the Pauper. He continued to give his humorous lectures around the country.


When he was 47, he wrote Life on the Mississippi.

Mark Twain, famous author

Mark Twain, famous author


By the time he was 48 years old, he had grown tired of lecturing. After a reading tour with George W. Cable during the winter of 1884-85, he vowed he would never appear before an audience again.

Ages 50 to 59: 1885-94

Twain produced a number of books that would prove to be lasting American classics during his 50s. He also entered into business ventures that failed, driving him into bankruptcy. Although he had several patents, he also invested in inventions of others that only resulted in losing money.


In 1885, he wrote his masterpiece The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Twain also received a patent for a history trivia game.


In 1888, at age 51, he received an honorary Master of Arts degree from Yale College.

Was a moody person

Twain seemed to suffer a form of moodiness—perhaps a form of manic-depressive behavior. His moods seemed to shift from minute to minute, and his temper was known to be volcanic. Sometimes he would be melancholy, other times angry, and other times humorous and happy.


In 1889, he wrote A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

Sought more wealth

Although he was rich and successful, he still sought more wealth through investments. He started a publishing company that ultimately failed. He also invested in several inventions convinced they would make him extremely rich. One invention that he invested in—even borrowing money for it—was for the development of a new form of typesetting machine.


The unfortunate publishing venture and then the great amount of money invested in the typesetting machine were drawing heavily on the family finances. Twain could no longer afford to maintain the large house in Hartford, so he sold it. He then moved his family to Berlin, Germany.

The reason for moving to Berlin was to research a book he wanted to write, as well as the lower cost of living in Europe.


During the next three years he was distracted by the financial struggle that ended in April 1894 with the failure of Charles L. Webster & Co. in which he had invested heavily. Mark Twain now found himself bankrupt and nearly one hundred thousand dollars in debt.

Despite his legal battles, he was able to write a large portion of the book Joan of Arc. The story was published anonymously in Harper's Magazine, because he felt it would not have been received seriously had it appeared over his own name.


In his years from age 40 to 59, Mark Twain first traveled and continued to write books. He also engaged in disastrous investments and moneymaking schemes that drove him into bankruptcy.

Lessons learned

Lessons learned from the later years of Mark Twain include:

Find your calling and be successful

Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials


Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) Resources

Biography Resources


(Notice: The School for Champions may earn commissions from book purchases)

Top-rated books on Mark Twain

Questions and comments

Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.

Students and researchers

The Web address of this page is:

Please include it as a link on your website or as a reference in your report, document, or thesis.

Copyright © Restrictions

Where are you now?

School for Champions


Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain): Ages 40 to 59

Birth to Age 29

Ages 30 to 39

Age 60 to Death at 74

Biography topics


Winston Churchill

Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)

Benjamin Franklin

Thomas Edison

Lee Harvey Oswald

Nikola Tesla

Miscellaneous people

Also see

Let's make the world a better place

Be the best that you can be.

Use your knowledge and skills to help others succeed.

Don't be wasteful; protect our environment.

You CAN influence the world.

Live Your Life as a Champion:

Take care of your health

Seek knowledge and gain skills

Do excellent work

Be valuable to others

Have utmost character

Be a Champion!

The School for Champions helps you become the type of person who can be called a Champion.