1. Education
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)


Mark Twain

Mark Twain

Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) is one of the most famous writers in American literature. He went to work in 1847 when his father died, starting off as an apprentice to a printer, writing for his brother's newspaper, and then working as a riverboat pilot (1857-61).

Mark Twain Birth:

Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri. He was the fifth surviving child of John and Jane Lampton Clemens.
Halley's comet was visible at the time of his birth, making his arrival an even more momentus occasion. Mark Twain said, "I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it... The Almighty has said, no doubt: 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.'"

Mark Twain Death:

Mark Twain died on April 21, 1910 in Redding, Connecticut of angina pectoris. Upon hearing of Twain's death, President Taft said, "Mark Twain gave pleasure--real intellectural enjoyment--to millions, and his works will continue to give such pleasure to millions yet to come... His humor was American, but he was nearly as much appreciated by Englishmen and people of other countries as by his own countrymen. He has made an enduring part of American literature."

Mark Twain Marriage:

Mark Twain married Miss Olivia L. Langdon (1845-1904) from Elmira, New York in 1870. Olivia died on June 7, 1904.

Mark Twain Achievements:

Mark Twain wrote novels [principally "The Guilded Age" (1873), "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (1876), "The Prince and the Pauper" (1881), "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (1884), "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" (1889) and "The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson" (1894)] short stories, speeches, and essays. He also wrote some autobiographical works, including "The Innocents Abroad" (1869), "A Tramp Abroad" (1880), "Life on the Mississippi" (1883), and "Mark Twain's Autobiography."

Mark Twain Professions:

Besides his work as a novelist, speech writer, essayist and short story writer, Mark Twain was a journeyman printer, steamboat pilot, army volunteer, gold prospector, timber prospector, and journalist.

Quotes from "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn":

"Quick, Jim, it ain't no time for fooling around and moaning; there's a gang of murderers in yonder."
- Ch. 12

"It's lovely to live on a raft."
- Ch. 19

"In the South one man all by himself, has stopped a stage full of men in the daytime."
- Ch. 22

"Well, it made me sick to see it; and I was sorry for them poor pitiful rascals."
- Ch. 33

"I knowed he was white inside, and I reckoned he'd say what he did say."
- Ch. 40

Quotes from "Adventures of Tom Sawyer":

"He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it."
- Ch. 2

"You only just tell a boy you won't ever have anybody but him, ever ever ever, and then you kiss and that's all."
- Ch. 7

"Here was a gorgeous triumph; they were missed; they were mourned; hearts were breaking on their account; tears were being shed."
- Ch. 14

"When one writes a novel about grown people, he knows exactly where to stop."
- Ch. 35

Mark Twain Biography:

The work that first brought Twain literary acclaim was "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog" (also known as "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County") in 1865. Also, as a journalist during those early literary days, Twain traveled to the Sandwich Islands, Europe and the Middle East in 1867. He shaped his travel adventures into several books: "The Innocents Abroad" (1869) and "Roughing It" (1872), which depicted West Coast travels.

Financial security brought about by his literary success allowed him to marry Olivia Langdon in 1870, and moved to Hartford, Connecticut the following year. During that time, he continued to write, and in 1873, he published "The Gilded Age" His success with "The Gilded Age" was followed by his ever-popular novel "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (1876), which he only returned to after abandoning it in 1874.

"Huckleberry Finn" was first published in 1884. Ernest Hemingway would later write, "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called 'Huckleberry Finn'."

After years of literary success, Twain's financial situation was destabilized in the 1890s when speculations didn't pay off. He moved his family to Europe, and began a lecture tour, but another shock hit him in 1897 with the death of his daughter, Susie.

Mark Twain has been called a realist and a romantic, a humorist and a satirist. His mark on American literary history cannot be overstated. The popularity of his works has been met with an equal portion of controversy, with "Huckleberry Finn" as one of the most banned and debated books in American literature. His life was remarkable in its triumphs and tragedies. His words are remarkable in their depth and perception of human experience.
Related Video

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.