Mark Twain

The Father of American Literature

Born in Florida, Missouri, on the 30th November 1835, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, wrote two major classics, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer under the pen name Mark Twain. He died on April 21st, 1910 in Redding, Connecticut.

Early Life

Samuel Clemens, known as Mark Twain, was born the sixth child of John and Jane Clemens in the tiny village of Florida, Missouri. When he was for years old, the Clemens family moved to Hannibal. John Clemens worked as a storekeeper, judge, land speculator and lawyer. He dreamed of wealth, and without achieving it, it was sometimes difficult to feed his family. In contrast, his mother was a homemaker. She became head of the household in 1947 when her husband died unexpectedly.


Samuel Clemens lived in Hannibal from the age four to seventeen. This river town inspired many of Twain's fictional locations in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. These locales were very particular, all having been part of his childhood experience.


Samuel's schooling ended when he was twelve because of his father's death. He found employment as an apprentice printer at the Hannibal Courier. In 1851, at the age of 15, he got a job as a printer and occasional writer at the Hannibal Western Union. A newspaper owned by his brother.


In 1857, Samuel Clemens aged twenty-one, learned the art of piloting a steamboat on the Mississippi. He loved his career and had finally fulfilled a dream. However, his career ended when the Civil War began, which stopped all travelling on the Mississippi.

The American West

In July 1861, Samuel Clemens boarded a stagecoach heading West to California. He was hoping to find gold and silver and become the richest man in Virginia City. It turned out that one year later, he had no money and searched a regular job. In September 1862, he began working as a reporter for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. He wrote news stories under the pen name Mark Twain, which was steamboat slang for 'Twelve feet of water'.


Mark Twain became one of the renowned storyteller in the west. In 1865, on of his stories, Jim Smiley and his Jumping Frog was published in various newspapers across the country. And in 1869, The Innocents Abroad was published and it became a best-seller. Aged thirty-four, Mark Twain had become one of the most popular writers in America.


In 1870, Mark Twain married Olivia Langdon, the daughter of a rich coal merchant in New-York. Twain hoped that Olivia, often called Livy, would ameliorate his ways of life. They settled in Buffalo and had four children, Susy, Clara, Jean and, Langdon Clemens.

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Writing

In 1876, Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published. Soon after, he began writing the sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Huckleberry Finn, which Twain often put aside to continue on other works, took him years to write. In the mean time, The Prince and the Pauper was released in 1881. In the year of 1883, Twain put out Life on the Mississippi. Mark Twain finally published his best novel, Huckleberry Finn, in 1884.


After Mark Twain's death, Ernest Hemingway, an American author and journalist, stated that "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn".


Mark Twain set himself a task of earning large amounts of money. He thought that he would achieve this by publishing the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, who had just passed away. He was sure that he would be rewarded with wealth and success. However, his publishing business went bankrupt.

Twain's Last Years

The last fifteen years of his life, Mark Twain was the most famous American celebrity and he was loved by everyone, wherever he travelled. He received many honours and was applauded by the public.


On the other hand, his favourite daughter, Susy, died of spinal meningitis at the age of twenty-four. His beloved wife, Olivia, died while he was travelling after a long illness in 1904. Five years later, Jean, his youngest daughter, died of a heart attack. Mark Twain now found himself lonely and he became depressed. His relationaship with the public faded away and he passed his time smoking cigars and playing billiards or cards.


Samuel L. Clemens died at the age of seventy-four on April 21st 1910, at his house in redding, Connecticut.

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