The Gilded Age, A Tale of Today is an 1873 novel by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner that satirizes greed and political corruption in post-Civil War America. The term gilded age commonly given to the era comes from the title of this book. Twain and Warner got the name from Shakespeare's King John (1595) To gild refined gold to paint the lily. is wasteful and ridiculous excess. Gilding a lily which is already beautiful and not in need of further adornment is excessive and wasteful characteristics of the age Twain and Warner wrote about in their novel.