Mark Twain Additional Biography


Twain showed that literary art of international reputation could be made from the simplicities of rural American life and that the comic representation of that life did not necessarily have to patronize the actions and ideas of simple people trying to lead decent lives in a country still physically and intellectually unformed. He made Americans proud of his celebration of childhood innocence and childhood character and aware of the physical beauty and the psychological greatness of its midwestern landscape. He also showed that a comic writer need not eschew serious ideas and that the imagination of a writer of adventure literature could be used to consider serious human themes.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

After his education was cut short by the death of a stern father who had more ambition than success, at the age of eleven Mark Twain was apprenticed to a newspaper office, which, except for the money earned from four years of piloting on the Mississippi, supplied most of his income until 1868. Then, he quickly won eminence as a lecturer and author before his marriage to wealthy Olivia Langdon in 1870 led to a memorably comfortable and active family life which included three daughters. Although always looking to his writing for income, he increasingly devoted energy to business affairs and investments until his publishing house declared bankruptcy in 1894. After his world lecture tour of 1895-1896, he became one of the most admired figures of his time and continued to earn honors until his death in 1910.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri, in 1835. He first used the pen name Mark Twain, taken from the leadsman’s cry for two fathoms of water, in 1862. Twain’s father was a Virginia lawyer, and the family was of poor but respectable southern stock. In 1839, the family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, the Mississippi River town that provided the source material and background of some of Twain’s best-known fiction. After his father died in 1847, Twain left school to become an apprentice in the printing shop of his brother, Orion. From 1853 to 1856, Twain worked as a journeyman printer in St. Louis, New York, Philadelphia, Keokuk, and Cincinnati.

Between 1857 and 1860, Twain acquired much of his knowledge of the Mississippi River as a pilot, beginning that short though richly productive career under the tutelage of a senior pilot, Horace Bixby. He was a Confederate volunteer for several weeks after the American Civil War began. In 1861, he left for the Nevada Territory with Orion, where he drifted into prospecting and journalism, beginning his career as a reporter with the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise and continuing it with the San Francisco Morning Call.

Twain’s literary career and the beginning of his fame might be said to have begun in 1865 with the publication in the New York Saturday Press of “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog” (later known as “The Celebrated Jumping Frog...

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(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri. Four years later, his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, the fictionalized St. Petersburg of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Dawson’s Landing of The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894). As a youth, Twain learned the printer’s trade, but in 1857 he fulfilled his boyhood dream of becoming a steamboat pilot, which he describes in “Old Times on the Mississippi” (1876) and Life on the Mississippi (1883). After the Civil War (1861-1865) ended commercial steamboat traffic on the Lower Mississippi River, he spent the next five years (1861-1866) as a miner and journalist in California and the Nevada Territory, an experience he later recounted in the highly fictionalized Roughing It (1872). It was during this period that he first used the pseudonym Mark Twain (a nautical term for two fathoms of water).

With the publication of “Jim Smiley and His Frog” (later republished as “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”) in New York’s The Saturday Press in 1865, Twain came to national attention, not as a serious, respectable writer, however, but as a southwestern humorist. He traveled to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), lectured widely, and in 1867 he toured the Mediterranean and Holy Land, culling material for his masterwork of American-style humorous irreverence, The Innocents Abroad (1869).


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(Masterpieces of American Literature)

ph_0111201282-Twain.jpg Mark Twain Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835. His father and mother both came from old Virginia families. His father was trained as a lawyer; somewhat feckless and unsuccessful in business, he moved slowly westward, involving himself in land speculation. In 1839, the family reached Hannibal, Missouri, a small town on the Mississippi River upriver from St. Louis, and it was there that Twain spent his early childhood and developed his love of the great river.

His father died when Twain was twelve years old, and Twain left school to learn the trade of printing, which his brother had entered before him. Twain spent several years as a roving journeyman printer, working as far east as New York City. In 1857, he was taken on by Horace Bixby, who trained him as a Mississippi steamboat pilot, a trade he practiced until the Civil War. The war wrecked the Mississippi River traffic, so in 1861 he went with his brother, Orion, to Carson City, Nevada, where Orion worked as a secretary in the new territorial government. Twain drifted into silver mining and eventually back to journalism with the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. It was in 1862 that he first adopted the pen name Mark Twain. Within a few years, while writing for newspapers in San Francisco, his composition of short sketches and stories was encouraged by Bret Harte.

Twain was developing a minor reputation as a humorist and lecturer in the mid-1860’s, but it was the publication of “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” in 1865 in the New York Saturday Press that brought him countrywide attention. He had a further success with a series of articles about a trip to Hawaii, commissioned by the Sacramento Union in 1866, and from then on he was able to make a living on the lecture circuit. The first major work to come out of this was The Innocents Abroad (1869), which was received with considerable praise, tempered by some criticism of the author’s Western lack of polish and discretion.

His experience as a Mississippi pilot and his wandering life as a printer, writer, and jack-of-all-trades gave him the raw material for a successful career as a writer and a lecturer. In 1870, he was able to marry Olivia Langdon of Elmira, New York, the daughter of a respected member of the eastern establishment. In 1870, Twain became joint owner and editor of the Buffalo, New York, newspaper the Express, but two years later he sold his interest, having lost a considerable amount of money in the project. He withdrew from newspaper work to Hartford, Connecticut, where he was to spend the...

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(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

Author Profile

Mark Twain’s most famous work, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, has been banned in classrooms and libraries since its first year of American publication, 1885. At the prodding of Louisa May Alcott, the public library of Concord, Massachusetts, banned the book, charging that it was unsuitable for impressionable young people. Such criticism died down until the racially charged environment of the 1960’s, when African Americans began calling the novel “racist trash.” Attempts to ban the book achieved prominent attention as in 1989, when a black administrator of an intermediate school named after Mark Twain in Fairfax, Virginia, pushed to ban the book.

Other censored works...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Mark Twain is both the greatest humorist American literature has produced and one of its most important novelists. Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, the son of John Marshall and Jane Lampton Clemens, in the small town of Florida, Missouri, he spent his boyhood in nearby Hannibal on the banks of the Mississippi River, a setting that would figure prominently in many of his best works. His father died before he turned twelve, and he quit school and went to work as a printer’s apprentice a few years later. While working on his older brother’s newspaper, he began writing humorous sketches. In 1852, he published his first piece in the East, “The Dandy Frightening the Squatter,” which appeared in a Boston magazine. A year later, he...

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Mark Twain's life is important to his writing, for his major works rely upon materials from his Hannibal, Missouri, boyhood and his careers...

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Mark Twain Published by Gale Cengage

The son of John Marshall Clemens, a judge, and Jane Lampton Clemens in Hannibal, Missouri, Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910) adopted the...

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Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri, on November 30,1835, the sixth child of John and Mary Clemens. In 1839,...

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Mark Twain is the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who was born November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri, the youngest of six children....

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Samuel Langhorne Clemens, more commonly known by his pseudonym, Mark Twain, was born in 1835 in what he later called "the almost invisible...

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Mark Twain Biography

Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) was born in Hannibal, Missouri, on November 30, 1835. He had two brothers and a sister. A slave named Jenny worked for the family, and it is thought that her storytelling had a strong influence on the young Twain. He traveled extensively, working in various jobs, including a stint on a newspaper and one as a riverboat pilot. He supposedly took his pseudonym from the way a river's depth was measured: a piece of line with knots at three-foot intervals was dropped into the river, and when the rope hit bottom, the depth was called out to the pilot. Therefore, “Mark Twain” or “two knots” literally means “six feet.”

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Mark Twain (the most well-known pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemons) was born in Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835, and grew up in...

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Mark Twain Published by Gale Cengage

Best known as Mark Twain Samuel Clemens was born 30 November 1835 and raised in Hannibal, Missouri. There he...

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Mark Twain Published by Gale Cengage

Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835, in the village of Florida, Missouri. When his father died in 1847,...

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Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835, in the village of Florida, Missouri. Although his early life was spent in...

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Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in 1835 in Florida, Missouri. He spent much of his childhood in Hannibal, Missouri, a town...

(The entire section is 401 words.)