Mark Twain, detail of photo by Mathew Brady, February 7, 1871
|Born||Samuel Langhorne Clemens
November 30, 1835(1835-11-30) Florida, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||April 21, 1910(1910-04-21) (aged 74)
Redding, Connecticut, U.S.
|Pen name||Mark Twain|
|Genres||Fiction, historical fiction, children's literature, non-fiction, travel literature, satire, essay, philosophical literature, social commentary, literary criticism|
|Notable work(s)||Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer|
|Spouse(s)||Olivia Langdon Clemens (m. 1870–1904) «start: (1870)–end+1: (1905)»"Marriage: Olivia Langdon Clemens to Mark Twain" Location: (linkback://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Twain)|
|Children||Langdon, Susy, Clara, Jean|
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He is most noted for his novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called "the Great American Novel."
Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He apprenticed with a printer. He also worked as a typesetter and contributed articles to his older brother Orion's newspaper. After toiling as a printer in various cities, he became a master riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River, before heading west to join Orion. He was a failure at gold mining, so he next turned to journalism. While a reporter, he wrote a humorous story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", which became very popular and brought nationwide attention. His travelogues were also well-received. Twain had found his calling.
He achieved great success as a writer and public speaker. His wit and satire earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.
He lacked financial acumen, and, though he made a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, he squandered it on various ventures, in particular the Paige Compositor, and was forced to declare bankruptcy. With the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers he eventually overcame his financial troubles. Twain worked hard to ensure that all of his creditors were paid in full, even though his bankruptcy had relieved him of the legal responsibility.
Twain was born during a visit by Halley's Comet, and he predicted that he would "go out with it" as well. He died the day following the comet's subsequent return. He was lauded as the "greatest American humorist of his age," and William Faulkner called Twain "the father of American literature."
Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry FinnEdit
Twain's next major publication was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which drew on his youth in Hannibal. Tom Sawyer was modeled on Twain as a child, with traces of two schoolmates, John Briggs and Will Bowen. The book also introduced in a supporting role Huckleberry Finn, based on Twain's boyhood friend Tom Blankenship.
The Prince and the Pauper, despite a storyline that is omnipresent in film and literature today, was not as well received. Telling the story of two boys born on the same day who are physically identical, the book acts as a social commentary as the prince and pauper switch places. Pauper was Twain's first attempt at historical fiction, and blame for its shortcomings is usually put on Twain for having not been experienced enough in English society, and also on the fact that it was produced after a massive hit. In between the writing of Pauper, Twain had started Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which he consistently had problems completing) and started and completed another travel book, A Tramp Abroad, which follows Twain as he traveled through central and southern Europe.
Twain's next major published work, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, solidified him as a noteworthy American writer. Some have called it the first Great American Novel, and the book has become required reading in many schools throughout the United States. Huckleberry Finn was an offshoot from Tom Sawyer and had a more serious tone than its predecessor. The main premise behind Huckleberry Finn is the young boy's belief in the right thing to do though most believed that it was wrong. Four hundred manuscript pages of Huckleberry Finn were written in mid-1876, right after the publication of Tom Sawyer. Some accounts have Twain taking seven years off after his first burst of creativity, eventually finishing the book in 1883. Other accounts have Twain working on Huckleberry Finn in tandem with The Prince and the Pauper and other works in 1880 and other years. The last fifth of Huckleberry Finn is subject to much controversy. Some say that Twain experienced, as critic Leo Marx puts it, a "failure of nerve." Ernest Hemingway once said of Huckleberry Finn: If you read it, you must stop where the Nigger Jim is stolen from the boys. That is the real end. The rest is just cheating. Hemingway also wrote in the same essay: All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. Near the completion of Huckleberry Finn, Twain wrote Life on the Mississippi, which is said to have heavily influenced the former book. The work recounts Twain's memories and new experiences after a 22-year absence from the Mississippi. In it, he also states that "Mark Twain" was the call made when the boat was in safe water – two fathoms (12 ft/3.7 m).
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