In 1847 Clemens’s father died of pneumonia. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Writing grand tales about Sawyer, Finn and the mighty Mississippi River, Twain explored the American soul with wit, buoyancy and a sharp eye for truth. "The full nature of his feelings toward her is puzzling," wrote scholar R. Kent Rasmussen. In the summers, Clemens visited his uncle John Quarles’s farm, near Florida, Missouri, where he played with his cousins and listened to stories told by the slave Uncle Daniel, who served, in part, as a model for Jim in Huckleberry Finn. A boy might swim or canoe to and explore Glasscock’s Island, in the middle of the Mississippi River, or he might visit the labyrinthine McDowell’s Cave, about 2 miles (3 km) south of town. His parents met when his father moved to Missouri. In 1889, Twain published A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, a science-fiction/historical novel about ancient England. Missouri was a slave state, and, though the young Clemens had been reassured that chattel slavery was an institution approved by God, he nevertheless carried with him memories of cruelty and sadness that he would reflect upon in his maturity. However, violence was commonplace, and young Twain witnessed much death: When he was nine years old, he saw a local man murder a cattle rancher, and at 10 he watched an enslaved person die after a white overseer struck him with a piece of iron. Mark Twain short biography. His next major work, in 1894, was The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson, a somber novel that some observers described as "bitter.". Death from disease during this time was common. Sam kept up his schooling until he was about 12 years old, when — with his father dead and the family needing a source of income — he found employment as an apprentice printer at the Hannibal Courier, which paid him with a meager ration of food. Mark Twain was born on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri. Though he had written many articles and had worke… A few years after his birth, he would move to Hannibal, MO. He was one of the couple’s seven children, but only three of his siblings survived childhood. Writing to a friend shortly after his wedding, Twain could not believe his good luck: "I have ... the only sweetheart I have ever loved ... she is the best girl, and the sweetest, and gentlest, and the daintiest, and she is the most perfect gem of womankind.". Mark Twain (November 30th, 1835) grew up in Florida, MS in a family of Jane and John Clements beside many brothers and sisters. However, Twain worried about being a Westerner. Mark Twain was an American humorist, novelist, and travel writer. Thankfully, Twain's glorious "low-minded" Western voice broke through on occasion. Twain suffered volcanic rages and nasty bouts of paranoia, and he experienced many periods of depressed indolence, which he tried to assuage by smoking cigars, reading in bed and playing endless hours of billiards and cards. She became head of the household in 1847 when John died unexpectedly. His publishing house eventually went bankrupt. Updates? Hannibal inspired several of Twain's fictional locales, including "St. Petersburg" in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain Biography - Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 - April 21, 1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was a famous and popular American humorist, novelist, writer and lecturer. A Fable. The Clemens family "now became almost destitute," wrote biographer Everett Emerson, and was forced into years of economic struggle — a fact that would shape the career of Twain. Some of these later works have enduring merit, and his unfinished work The Chronicle of Young Satan has fervent admirers today. John Clemens worked as a storekeeper, lawyer, judge and land speculator, dreaming of wealth but never achieving it, sometimes finding it hard to feed his family. After that, business and writing were of equal value to Twain as he set about his cardinal task of earning a lot of money. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us! "If he treasured Livy's comradeship as much as he often said, why did he spend so much time away from her?". Even before that year, however, continuing debts had forced them to auction off property, to sell their only slave, Jennie, to take in boarders, even to sell their furniture. Omissions? Young Samuel grew up in the small town of Hannibal, Missouri with his sister and two brothers. Samuel Clemens (later better known by his pen name Mark Twain) was born in Florida, Missouri in 1835 to the son of a Tennessee country merchant. Among those companions was Tom Blankenship, an affable but impoverished boy whom Twain later identified as the model for the character Huckleberry Finn. He also wrote short stories, essays and several other books, including a study of Joan of Arc. In this magisterial full-scale biography of America’s greatest storyteller and satirist, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist Fred Kaplan refashions our image of Mark Twain and etches a vibrant portrait of a singular personality who created some of the … He lived sparingly in the Ament household but was allowed to continue his schooling and, from time to time, indulge in boyish amusements. He spent his boyhood in nearby Hannibal, on the banks of the Mississippi River, observing its busy life, fascinated by its romance, but chilled by the violence and bloodshed it bred. Mark Twain, whose real name was Samuel Clemens, was the celebrated author of several novels, including two major classics of American literature: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain - short biography and literary slide show. But absent or not, throughout 34 years of marriage, Twain had indeed loved his wife. Originally from Florida, United States. A Humane Word From Satan. A Burlesque Biography. Elsewhere, Chicago Hope and NCIS. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. He was of Scots-Irish, English, and Cornish ancestry. Twain loved his career — it was exciting, well-paying and high-status, roughly akin to flying a jetliner today. Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in the tiny village of Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835, the sixth child of John and Jane Clemens. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? "use strict";(function(){var insertion=document.getElementById("citation-access-date");var date=new Date().toLocaleDateString(undefined,{month:"long",day:"numeric",year:"numeric"});insertion.parentElement.replaceChild(document.createTextNode(date),insertion)})(); Subscribe to the Biography newsletter to receive stories about the people who shaped our world and the stories that shaped their lives. As the Civil War began, the people of Missouri angrily split between support for the Union and the Confederate States. Although the exact origins of the name are unknown, it is worth noting that Clemens operated riverboats, and mark twain is a nautical term for water found to be two fathoms (12 feet [3.7 metres]) deep: mark (measure) twain (two). When he … The town, situated on the Mississippi River, was in many ways a splendid place to grow up. The family was having a tough time since their breadwinner had died which made Mark take on the leading role in the family and got a job as a printer. His mother tried various allopathic and hydropathic remedies on him during those early years, and his recollections of those instances (along with other memories of his growing up) would eventually find their way into Tom Sawyer and other writings. Twain died on April 21, 1910, at the age of 74. "Much of the last decade of his life, he lived in hell," wrote Hamlin Hill. No doubt his temperament was affected by his worries over his financial situation, made all the more distressing by a series of business failures. His brother Pleasant Han… His most famous novels included The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), which are loosely based on Twain’s boyhood experiences in Missouri. When he was eight, a measles epidemic (potentially lethal in those days) was so frightening to him that he deliberately exposed himself to infection by climbing into bed with his friend Will Bowen in order to relieve the anxiety. Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri on November 30, 1835. "Wheresoever she was, there was Eden," he wrote in tribute to her. In 1851, at 15, he got a job as a printer and occasional writer and editor at the Hannibal Western Union, a little newspaper owned by his brother, Orion. ", In February 1870, he improved his social status by marrying 24-year-old Olivia (Livy) Langdon, the daughter of a rich New York coal merchant. Later they moved to Hannibal of the same state where Twain’s father, a layer, got a job but, unfortunately, soon he got sick and passed away when the boy was a bit older than ten. Indeed, he was one of the most prominent celebrities in the world, traveling widely overseas, including a successful 'round-the-world lecture tour in 1895-96, undertaken to pay off his debts. Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri. His memory faltered. Then, in 1857, 21-year-old Twain fulfilled a dream: He began learning the art of piloting a steamboat on the Mississippi. Livy, like many people during that time, took pride in her pious, high-minded, genteel approach to life. They were married in 1823. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. However, in many ways the childhood of Samuel Clemens was a rough one. He is called the father of American Literature by William Faulkner. Bence’s act of courage and kindness served in some measure as a model for Huck’s decision to help the fugitive Jim in Huckleberry Finn. Twain became somewhat bitter in his later years, even while projecting an amiable persona to his public. Twain stayed in Hannibal until age 17. Born in Florida, Missouri in 1835, Samuel Langhorne Clemens would start a life that would be filled with great satire short stories. When Twain was about four, his family moved again, this time to Hannibal, Missouri, a small town of about five hundred people. Twain opted for the latter, joining the Confederate Army in June 1861 but serving for only a couple of weeks until his volunteer unit disbanded. DOWNLOAD BIOGRAPHY'S MARK TWAIN FACT CARD. He was also a riverboat pilot, journalist, lecturer, entrepreneur and inventor. Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, was an American humorist, writer, publisher, entrepreneur, lecturer, and publisher. One evening in 1844 Clemens discovered a corpse in his father’s office; it was the body of a California emigrant who had been stabbed in a quarrel and was placed there for the inquest. Because he was sickly, Clemens was often coddled, particularly by his mother, and he developed early the tendency to test her indulgence through mischief, offering only his good nature as bond for the domestic crimes he was apt to commit. The Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut, is now a popular attraction and is designated a National Historic Landmark. A Dog's Tale. Biography. As he remembered it in “Old Times on the Mississippi” (1875), the village was a “white town drowsing in the sunshine of a summer’s morning,” until the arrival of a riverboat suddenly made it a hive of activity. In private he demonstrated a stunning insensitivity to friends and loved ones. The gamblers, stevedores, and pilots, the boisterous raftsmen and elegant travelers, all bound for somewhere surely glamorous and exciting, would have impressed a young boy and stimulated his already active imagination. The couple settled in Buffalo and later had four children. In Old Times on the Mississippi (1875), he recalled his childhood in Hannibal with fondness. Twain's fervent wish was to get rich, support his mother, rise socially and receive what he called "the respectful regard of a high Eastern civilization. In 1885, he triumphed as a book publisher by issuing the bestselling memoirs of former President Ulysses S. Grant, who had just died. He started his career as a typesetter at a newspaper, worked as a printer, a riverboat pilot, and then turned to gold mining. Mark Twain died on April 21, 1910. He wrote 28 books and numerous short stories, letters and sketches. A Cure For The Blues. He got a big break in 1865, when one of his tales about life in a mining camp, "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog," was printed in newspapers and magazines around the country (the story later appeared under various titles). After failing as a silver prospector‚ Sam began writing for the Territorial Enterprise‚ a Virginia City‚ Nevada newspaper where he used‚ for the first time‚ his pen name‚ Mark Twain. Twain is remembered as a great chronicler of American life in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Insofar as Clemens could be said to have inherited his sense of humour, it would have come from his mother, not his father. My parents removed to Missouri in the early ’thir Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri and would later use that location as the setting for two of his most famous works, Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. Some of his early sketches, such as “The Dandy Frightening the Squatter” (1852), circulated in local newspapers. Mark Twain, pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, (born November 30, 1835, Florida, Missouri, U.S.—died April 21, 1910, Redding, Connecticut), American humorist, journalist, lecturer, and novelist who acquired international fame for his travel narratives, especially The Innocents Abroad (1869), Roughing It (1872), and Life on the Mississippi (1883), and for his adventure stories of … Those same adventures could be reenacted with his companions as well, and Clemens and his friends did play at being pirates, Robin Hood, and other fabled adventurers. Working at a printing house and part-time delivering parcels, … Television star Mark Harmon has been on long-running shows such as St. Mark Twain, the writer, adventurer and wily social critic born Samuel Clemens, wrote the novels 'Adventures of Tom Sawyer' and 'Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.’. When Jane Clemens was in her 80s, Clemens asked her about his poor health in those early years: “I suppose that during that whole time you were uneasy about me?” “Yes, the whole time,” she answered. The man who has not experienced it cannot imagine the curse of it. Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in the town of Florida, Missouri, in 1835. He wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called “The Great American Novel”. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). https://www.britannica.com/biography/Mark-Twain, The State Historical Society of Missouri - Biography of Samuel L. Clemens, Mark Twain - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), Mark Twain - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up), “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”, “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches”. After the death of his father, Sam Clemens worked at several odd jobs in town, and in 1848 he became a printer’s apprentice for Joseph P. Ament’s Missouri Courier. Twain's last 15 years were filled with public honors, including degrees from Oxford and Yale. At 34, this handsome, red-haired, affable, canny, egocentric and ambitious journalist and traveler had become one of the most popular and famous writers in America. During his lifetime Mark Twain wrote more than 20 novels. M ark Twain himself was Twain’s first successful work of fiction. Perhaps it was the romantic visionary in him that caused Clemens to recall his youth in Hannibal with such fondness. Mark Twain, pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, (born November 30, 1835, Florida, Missouri, U.S.—died April 21, 1910, Redding, Connecticut), American humorist, journalist, lecturer, and novelist who acquired international fame for his travel narratives, especially The Innocents Abroad (1869), Roughing It (1872), and Life on the Mississippi (1883), and for his adventure stories of boyhood, especially The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885). You are likely familiar with the name but you might be wondering “who was MarkTwain?” It was the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a famous American writer, humorist, lecturer, and journalist. A Short Biography of Mark Twain. For many years, Twain's relationship with middle daughter Clara was distant and full of quarrels. The loss broke his heart, and adding to his grief, he was out of the country when it happened. A cholera epidemic a few years later killed at least 24 people, a substantial number for a small town. Apart from family worries, the social environment was hardly idyllic. In June 1904, while Twain traveled, Livy died after a long illness. Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri, USA, to Jane (née Lampton) and John Marshall Clemens. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published in 1876, and soon thereafter he began writing a sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain is widely considered one of the greatest American writers of all time. However, later in life he would go by his pseudonym, Mark Twain. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Christened as Samuel Langhorne Clemens, the man who would call himself Mark Twain was born on November 30, 1835 in the small river town of Florida, Missouri, just 200 miles from Indian Territory. Clemens was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, the town that inspired the setting in some of his most popular works such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain hoped that she would "reform" him, a mere humorist, from his rustic ways. In the meantime, he pursued respectability with the 1881 publication of The Prince and the Pauper, a charming novel endorsed with enthusiasm by his genteel family and friends. "An indisputable and almost overwhelming sense of inferiority bounced around his psyche," wrote scholar Hamlin Hill, noting that these feelings were competing with his aggressiveness and vanity. This was an old term used by pilots to show how deep the water is where they throw the lead. It is not surprising that the pleasant events of youth, filtered through the softening lens of memory, might outweigh disturbing realities. A Helpless Situation. His youngest daughter, Jean, was diagnosed with severe epilepsy. Mark Twain Biography. Twain became one of the best-known storytellers in the West. Perhaps it was a sign of the infant's rise to literary fame. In the meantime, the debts accumulated. A Monument To Adam. He lavished many hours on this and other business ventures, and was certain that his efforts would be rewarded with enormous wealth, but he never achieved the success he expected. Today he is best remembered as the author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885). Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835, in the frontier village of Florida, Missouri. However, his service was cut short in 1861 by the outbreak of the Civil War, which halted most civilian traffic on the river. Slideshare uses cookies to improve functionality and performance, and to provide you with relevant advertising. Twain was of Cornish, English, and Scots-Irish descent. Three years later his elder brother, Orion, bought the Hannibal Journal, and Twain began working for him as a typesetter. As Halley's comet reached its perihelion — its closest point to the sun — Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in the sleepy, little town of Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835. The first site evidently became Jackson’s Island in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; the second became McDougal’s Cave in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twai n (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910) was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. In 1839 his family moved to the Mississippi port town of Hannibal in search of greater economic opportunities. These events would find a way into his short stories and books‚ particularly Roughing It. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Judging from his own speculative ventures in silver mining, business, and publishing, it was a curse that Sam Clemens never quite outgrew. His mother, by contrast, was a fun-loving, tenderhearted homemaker who whiled away many a winter's night for her family by telling stories. But nothing panned out, and by the middle of 1862, he was flat broke and in need of a regular job. Mark Twain was an American author known for his sharp wit and social commentary. Twain's first book, "The Innocents Abroad," was published in 1869, "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" in 1876, and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" in 1885. John Clemens’s death contributed further to the family’s financial instability. At the age of 11, his father died and the next year Twain had to gain employment as a printer’s apprentice. If you continue browsing the site, you agree to the use of cookies on this website. Twain also wrote numerous short stories, most notably “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” (1865). His next step up the ladder of success came in 1867, when he took a five-month sea cruise in the Mediterranean, writing humorously about the sights for American newspapers with an eye toward getting a book out of the trip. Hemingway's comment refers specifically to the colloquial language of Twain's masterpiece, as for perhaps the first time in America, the vivid, raw, not-so-respectable voice of the common folk was used to create great literature. Samuel Langhorne Clemens better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. Huck Finn required years to conceptualize and write, and Twain often put it aside. Mark Zuckerberg is co-founder and CEO of the social-networking website Facebook, as well as one of the world's youngest billionaires. When Huck Finn finally was published in 1884, Livy gave it a chilly reception. The sixth child of John Marshall Clemens and Jane Lampton, Twain lived in Florida, Missouri until the age of four, at which time his family relocated to the town of Hannibal in hopes of improving … Author of. Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) is best known as the Roman general who was a lover of Cleopatra. Mark Twain Tribute Photos of Twain set to music. He was buried in Elmira, New York. In those years, the country's cultural life was dictated by an Eastern establishment centered in New York City and Boston — a straight-laced, Victorian, moneyed group that cowed Twain. In July 1861, Twain climbed on board a stagecoach and headed for Nevada and California, where he would live for the next five years. Biography of Mark Twain A 5-part internet biography of Twain. He is regarded as the great humorist of the United States. Professor Emeritus of English, University of Missouri, Columbia. Computer scientist and engineer Mark Dean is credited with helping develop a number of landmark technologies, including the color PC monitor, the Industry Standard Architecture system bus and the first gigahertz chip. Mark Felt was an Associate Director at the FBI who became a secret informant and broke the Watergate story to reporters while disguised as "Deep Throat.". Mark Twain is the pen name of Samuel Clemens. A Letter To The Secretary Of The Treasury. Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in the tiny village of Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835, the sixth child of John and Jane Clemens. He honed a distinctive narrative style — friendly, funny, irreverent, often satirical and always eager to deflate the pretentious. Mark Twain Biography Growing Up. They contributed powerfully to a growing pessimism in him, a deep-down feeling that human existence is a cosmic joke perpetrated by a chuckling God. Mark Twain passed away on April 21, 1910, but has a following still today. A licensed steamboat pilot by 1859, he soon found regular employment plying the shoals and channels of the great river. Where, he wondered then, would he find his future? The Adventures of Mark Twain Co-founder of the successful startup Broadcast.com, Mark Cuban is known as the zealous owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and a star of the TV show 'Shark Tank.'. He was an unsmiling fellow; according to one legend, young Sam never saw his father laugh. The last piece of writing he did, evidently, was the short humorous sketch “Etiquette for the Afterlife: Advice to Paine.” The sketch was published posthumously in 1995. Samuel Langhorne Clemens left Hannibal when he was 18 to work in New York City and Philadelphia. A gifted raconteur, distinctive humorist, and irascible moralist, he transcended the apparent limitations of his origins to become a popular public figure and one of America’s best and most beloved writers. p C H A P T E R 1 I was born the 30 th of n ovember, 1835, in the almost invisible village of Florida, Missouri. In 1883 he put out Life on the Mississippi, an interesting but safe travel book. We strive for accuracy and fairness. In 1869, The Innocents Abroad was published, and it became a nationwide bestseller. Samuel Clemens, the sixth child of John Marshall and Jane Lampton Clemens, was born two months prematurely and was in relatively poor health for the first 10 years of his life. His answer: the great American West. In January 1845 Clemens watched a man die in the street after he had been shot by a local merchant; this incident provided the basis for the Boggs shooting in Huckleberry Finn.