Mark Twain American Author and Humorist

Essay by lindacuiUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, October 2004

download word file, 2 pages 3.0

Mark Twain

American Author and Humorist


The man with a new idea

is a crank until the idea succeeds.

--Mark Twain


Samuel Langhorne Clemens (pen name Mark Twain) was born on November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri. Twain is considered the greatest humorist of 19th Century American literature. His novels and stories about the Mississippi River: "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (1876) and "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (1894) are still popular with modern readers.

In 1839 the Clemens family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, on the Mississippi River where young Sam experienced the excitement and colorful sights of the waterfront. Like many authors of his day he had little formal education. His education came from the print shops and newspaper offices where he worked as a youth. In 1853 Clemens left Hannibal with a yearning to travel. On a trip to New Orleans he persuaded a riverboat pilot to teach him his skill.

By the Spring of 1859 Clemens was a licensed riverboat pilot.

At the outbreak of the American Civil War (1861) Clemens chose not to get involved and moved to Carson City, Nevada. After an unsuccessful attempt at gold and silver mining he joined the staff of a newspaper in Virginia City, Nevada. He first wrote under the pen name, "Mark Twain" (meaning "two fathoms" in riverboat-talk) in 1863. "Twain" wrote his first popular story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" in 1865.

He continued to travel as a correspondent for various newspapers, and in 1869 his travel letters from Europe were collected into the popular book, "The Innocents Abroad." Encouraged by his success Twain married Olivia Langdon and settled down in Hartford, Connecticut to his most productive years as a writer. Between 1873 and 1889 he wrote seven novels including his Mississippi River...