Mark Twain Samuel Clemens or None of the Above
Mark Twain was one of the most popular and well-known authors of the 1800’s. He is recognized for being a humorist. He used humor or social satire in his best works. His writing is known for “realism of place and language, memorable characters, and hatred of hypocrisy and oppression” (Mark Twain 1).
Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835. He was born on the Missouri frontier in a small log village called Florida. His parents had come to Florida from their former home in Tennessee (Unger 192). When Clemens was four, he moved with his family to Hannibal, Missouri, a port on the Mississippi River (Mark Twain 1). His father, who had studied law in Kentucky, was a local magistrate and small merchant (Unger 193). When Samuel was twelve, his father died. He was then apprenticed to two local printers (Unger 193). When he was sixteen, Clemens began setting type for the local newspaper Hannibal Journal, which his older brother Orion managed (Mark Twain 1).
In 1853, when Samuel was eighteen, he left Hannibal for St. Louis (Unger 194). There he became a steam boat pilot on the Mississippi River. Clemens piloted steamboats until the Civil War in 1861. Then he served briefly with the Confederate army (Mark Twain 1). In 1862 Clemens became a reporter on the Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City, Nevada. In 1863 he began signing his articles with the pseudonym Mark Twain, a Mississippi River phrase meaning “two fathoms deep” (Bloom 43).
In 1865, Twain reworked a tale he had heard in the California gold fields, and within months the author and the story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, had become national sensations (Bloom 47). In 1867 Twain lectured in New York City, and in the same year he visited Europe and Palestine. He wrote of these travels in The Innocents Abroad. This book exaggerated those aspects of European culture that impress American tourists (Bain, Flora, and Rubin 103). Many claim that The Innocents Abroad is Mark Twain’s second-best book (Unger 198).
In 1870 he married Olivia Langdon. After living briefly in Buffalo, New York, the couple moved to Hartford, Connecticut (Bain, Flora, and Rubin 104). Much of Mark Twain’s best work was written in the 1870’s and 1880’s in H…
…e also came to be known for the white linen suit that he always wore when making public appearances (Unger 204). Twain received an honorary doctorate from the University of Oxford in 1907. He died in 1910, at the age of 75. When Twain died, he left an uncompleted autobiography, which was eventually edited by his secretary, Albert Bigelow Paine, and published in 1924 (Mark Twain 2). Mark Twain is still credited as being a major influence by most writers today. His work is still popular and will live on for many years.
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Marshall, Sara. America In Literature: The South. New York: Charles Scribner’s Son’s, 1979.
“Twain, Mark”. Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corporation.
Unger, Leonard. American Writers IV: A Collection of Literary Biographies. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1974.