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Monday, November 22, 2010

Review of The Singular Mark Twain

You would think a man who was one of the bestselling authors of his time would not have financial difficulties. Just finished biography The Singular Mark Twain and I was amazed that apart from marrying well and making very good money from his books and lecturing--he had to file bankruptcy and died with very little money that was squandered by his daughters. When reading Twain's biography you are struck at how much money he made and how much he lost. He had a penchant for making terrible investments, getting caught up in get rich quick schemes and basically being bad with his money. Sounds like a writer to me.


We assume that as writers there are those out there with the mythical pot of gold. Well, there are. People do make millions from their books but they also lose millions. Mark Twain even had his own publishing company, his wife was wealthy, he made a bundle from lecturing around the country, his books sold well, yet he spent the latter years of his life in debt. He did what most people do when they get money, he increased his lifestyle and traveled.

He also really believed he had the key to riches with several inventions. What is interesting about the Twain character is that he knew a lot of times what he was doing was not in his best interests. But he could not help himself. He ended up having to lecture for years to pay his debts from a bankruptcy and basically living abroad because he could not afford to live in the United States. Amazing that one of our premiere authors could not afford to stay in his own house. He coudlnt' sell it either and ended up practically giving it away. The crash of 1890 pretty much wiped him out. I guess there is nothing new under the son. Hard times are hard times. Even for those at the top of the literary mountain.

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Rocket Man will be out in January

Books by William Hazelgrove