50+ Legendary Mark Twain Quotes About Life

Last updated on November 16th, 2022 at 04:05 am.

It should come as no surprise that someone who worked as a riverboat pilot, a miner, a journalist, an entrepreneur, a publisher, and a lecturer would have some remarkable insights on life and how to live it. Mark Twain was all of those things and more, but most of all, he is remembered as perhaps the most famous and influential American writer in history. Below are our favorite Mark Twain quotes about life.

Sometimes called the world’s greatest humorist, Mark Twain’s storytelling and wit not only made him famous around the world, but his writings have had an immeasurable effect on American literature. This article collects Mark Twain’s most insightful, useful, and humorous quotes about life. But first, a bit more about Mark Twain’s own life.

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Mark Twain Quotes About Life

Mark Twain Books & Writing & Life

Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in 1835 in the town of Florida, Missouri, although his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, when he was four years old.

Mark Twain

Twain’s home state of Missouri inspired much of his writing, and the town of Hannibal would later become the setting of his two most famous books, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). In his early life, Clemens worked a variety of jobs, spending time as a typesetter and occasional writer for his older brother’s newspaper and as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River.

Clemens moved west to Nevada in 1861, where he took up work as a miner, but the enterprise was doomed to failure. After his mining misadventure, he began writing for a newspaper called the Territorial Enterprise. Although Clemens had written a number of pieces for his brother’s newspaper in the past, it wasn’t until 1863 in Nevada that he published his first work under his now-famous pen name, Mark Twain.

Twain’s first breakthrough success was his humorous story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” which was published in the New York Saturday Press in 1865, garnering him national attention. As his body of work grew, so too did his success—soon, his work was being published across the country, and he rapidly ascended to celebrity status.

American readers loved Twain’s witty, original writing style, incisive humor, moral satire, social commentary, and unique view of the world. Moreover, Twain’s writings were inspired by an amazing diversity of life experiences, as he drew on his memories of the jobs he had held, the places he had traveled, and the interesting and inspiring people he had met.

Twain’s most famous books were The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, two related works heavily inspired by his own boyhood in Missouri. These books cemented Twain’s status as an important American writer and are still widely read today.

Over the course of his career, Twain created an enormous body of classic works, experienced epic highs and lows in his personal fortune, and wrote compelling commentaries on many of the most important political issues of the day. He died in 1910 at the age of 74.

Mark Twain: The Quintessential American Writer

writer Mark Twain

Although Twain emerged from humble beginnings as the son of a failed businessman, he became a wealthy and famous celebrity in his own time based purely on the merit of his writing. For this reason, Twain is often considered to be the quintessential American writer.

Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.” William Faulkner called him the father of American literature.

Indeed, it is not only the uniquely American qualities of his writing and observations that make him an important literary figure but also the path of his life and his rise from obscurity to overwhelming success throughout the United States and then the world.

Twain’s influence has lasted in large part because of the timelessness of his wit and observations. He experienced America during one of its most turbulent and formative eras, traveled the world widely, worked in countless industries, and experienced both failure and success.

Most importantly, he always tried to understand the deeper nature of life—a nature that remains constant through the years, despite how much the world has changed. It is no wonder his words contain so much wisdom.

Now that we know who he was, let’s take a look at these Mark Twain quotes on life.

Mark Twain Quotes About Life

Mark Twain Quote about life

1.      It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

2.      If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.

3.      Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

Mark Twain quote about Truth

4.      Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.

5.      Sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails, explore, dream, discover.

6.      When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain.

7.      Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.

8.      Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.

9.      Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.

10.  Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.

11.  Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.

12.  It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

Mark Twain quote about newspaper

13.  If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.

14.  You can’t reason with your heart; it has its own laws, and thumps about things which the intellect scorns.

15.  The secret of success is making your vocation your vacation.

16.  The trouble is not in dying for a friend, but in finding a friend worth dying for.

17.  Don’t part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.

18.  Laughter without a tinge of philosophy is but a sneeze of humor. Genuine humor is replete with wisdom.

19.  I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.

20.  Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).

21.  Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.

22.  If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.

23.  Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.

24.  When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.

Mark Twain quote about success

25.  All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, then success is sure.

26.  It is noble to teach oneself, but still nobler to teach others—and less trouble.

27.  To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.

28.  Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life.

29.  A clear conscience is the sure sign of a bad memory.

Mark Twain Quote about life lesson

30.  The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.

31.  Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.

32.  The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.

33.  The secret of getting ahead is getting started.

Twain quote about life

34.  Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

35.  With courage, you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.

36.  Do the thing you fear most, and the death of fear is certain.

37.  Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

38.  I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.

39.  What is the most rigorous law of our being? Growth.

40.  Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.

41.  A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.

42.  A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

43.  Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.

44.  Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

45.  Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that makes you smile.

46.  Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.

47.  Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination.

48.  Always obey your parents when they are present.

49.  Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

50.  Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.

51.  The man with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.

52.  It is wiser to find out than suppose.

53.  Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered—either by themselves or by others.

54.  I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want.

55.  Do something every day that you don’t want to do. This is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain.

Twain quote about happiness

56.  The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.

57.  Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.

58.  Let us endeavor so to live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.

59.  If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.

60.  I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.

“Words to live by” is an understatement—these Mark Twain quotes are as relevant today as they were in the 19th and 20th centuries. Although times have changed, the wit and wisdom of the legendary Mark Twain can still be useful in understanding and living life to the fullest in the modern world.

All good things must come to an end, but if you enjoyed these life quotes by Mark Twain, We also have a list of the 66 best funny and inspirational quotes by Mark Twain.

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