15 Unusual Mark Twain Facts to Celebrate his 180th Anniversary

1. Mark Twain is not related to Shania Twain. As we all know, Mark Twain was the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, while Shania's real name is Eilleen Regina Edwards. Eilleen didn't became a Twain until after her parents divorced and her mother married Jerry Twain, who adopted Eilleen.

2. In riverboat jargon, Mark Twain means Mark No.2 - a depth of two fathoms or 12 feet, which was deep enough for a steamboat to navigate. Twain spent two years as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi.

3. It cost one dollar to hear Mark Twain lecture about his experiences in Hawaii following his return to California in 1866. His lecture on Hawaii - then an undeveloped American colony - covered local customs, food and his horseback tour of the islands, including volcanoes and rain forests.

4. Mark Twain met Russia's Tsar Alexander II in 1867 when travelling on the Quaker City. The Tzar was holidaying at his summer palace in Yalta. Twain met countless famous figures during his life ranging from Rudyard Kipling to Thomas Edison, who filmed him at his home in Redding, Connecticut.

Twain's World - Samuel Clemens at 180 Learn more about Mark Twain

5. Twain was fascinated by India and wrote: "This is India! The land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendor and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of a hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of tradition..."

6. Mark Twain revisited his childhood home in Hannibal, Missouri, in 1902. He said: "It all seems so small to me. A boy's home is a big place to him. I suppose if I should come back again 10 years from now it would be the size of a bird-house."

7. Mark Twain thoroughly enjoyed adopting new technologies. He was one of the first writers to use a typewriter and one of Connecticut's first people to have a telephone installed in their home.

8. One of Twain's worst financial decisions was to invest in the Paige Compositor - a machine designed to replace human typesetters, which failed to catch on. Twain's first job was as a typesetter.

9. Mark Twain loved Bermuda and made the island into his second home. It could be argued that Bermuda's reputation as a holiday destination originated because of its association with the famous author.

10. On the day of Twain's death (21 April 1910), he had been reading Thomas Carlyle's French Revolution - one of his favorite books. He was 75. The book was resting beside him on the bed when he died at 6.22pm. His death was reported on the front page of the New York Times.

11. Mark Twain's autobiography was his final work but it was not published until 2010 when it became an unexpected bestseller. Twain is one of the few authors to have had bestselling books in three different centuries.

12. Mark Twain was widely associated with cigar-smoking. Several manufacturers struck deals with the author to use his image on cigar boxes. American car manufacturer Oldsmobile used Twain on a picture postcard to advertise one of their vehicles in 1906.

13. The first 'Mark Twain Club' was formed in Ireland in 1875. These early versions of fan clubs were more like modern-day book clubs as members met to discuss the author's writing.

14. Hotels often used Mark Twain's name in their name around the turn of the century because of the author's reputation as a great traveler. You can still stay at the Mark Twain Hotel in San Francisco's Tenderloin district.

15. Mark Twain didn't start wearing his famous white suit until late in his life. In December 7, 1906, the New York Tribune reported on his visit to the House of Representatives and wrote: "The author was dressed in a summer suit of white flannels, and when surprise was expressed that he should show such disdain for the December air, he said: 'There is absolutely no comfortable and delightful and pleasant costume but the human skin. That, however, is impossible. But when you are seventy-one years old you may at least be pardoned for dressing as you please.'"