Samuel Langhorne Clemens, more famously known as Mark Twain was born on November 30, 1835. Twain had six siblings and was the sixth child born to John Marshall Clemens and Jane Lampton Clemens however, three of Twain’s siblings passed away early in their childhood. Twain was born in the small village of Florida, Missouri, a new village which was established in 1831, having a population of only a hundred people.

The Clemens family did not live in Florida, Missouri for long. John Clemens and a few other investors started a Salt Navigation company in Florida, Missouri, however bad river levels forced them to shut down the company.    John Clemens wanted to be a rich man, and he always sought out after money. So John moved his family to Hannibal, Missouri, where he worked many different types of jobs, some being storekeeper, attorney, and judge.

Twain spent most of his early life in Hannibal, Missouri, which would serve as an inspiration for his books later on in his life. John Clements passed away from pneumonia when Twain was eleven years old. The death of their father left the family with financial troubles and so at the age of twelve Twain left school and went to work as a printer’s apprentice.

At the age of fifteen, he started working for his brother’s newspaper company where he would write and edit articles. Leaving Hannibal at eighteen years old, Twain moved to New York City to work as a printer.  Mark Twain grew up watching steamboats go through the town of Hannibal, his lifelong dream was to become a steamboat pilot. At the age of 21 Twain started working for steamboat pilot Horace E.

Bixby who taught him how to pilot a steamboat. While working on steamboats Twain came up with his pen name “Mark Twain” which means 12 feet of water.The outbreak of the Civil War halted river travel, so Twain moved to Virginia City, Nevada, where he worked for the city newspaper. In 1865, Twain’s story The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County was published in the New York weakly. Then while he was on a 5-month cruise Twain wrote travel letters that he turned into a book titled The Innocents Abroad, which became a bestseller in 1869. This success led to Mark Twain being recognized as the most famous writer in America at the time. In February 1870 Twain married Olivia Langdon, a 24-year-old daughter of a coal merchant.

Olivia Langdon was the opposite of Twain who was “southern” and “rustic, Olivia was from New York and was of higher social class and came from wealth. Twain and Olivia moved to Buffalo and went on to have four children.    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Published in 1876 and its sequel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn published in 1885 are some of Twain’s most famous pieces of work.

Twain was able to portray the southern culture across to the readers, with his use of colloquial language in these novels about boyhood adventures. However, during the time it was published and even now in the present day, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been criticized for being racist in the way that it portrays the African American characters. Nonetheless, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been labeled amid the Greatest American Novels. Twain’s first endeavor at writing a historical novel was The Prince and the Pauper published in 1881. The novel was pleasantly received by his audience, and went on to inspire many films and plays down the line. Recognized as an exceptional author, Twain was awarded an honorary Doctor of letters degree by the Yale University in 1901, and by the Oxford University in 1907.

Despite the fact that he was an accomplished writer, Twain spent his later years battling depression. He struggled with the death of three of his children, as well as his wife’s death in 1904. Mark Twain passed away on April 21, 1910, at the age of 74.


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