Biography of Mark Twain

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, also known as Mark Twain, was born to John and Jane Clemens on 30th November, 1835 in Florida. Profoundly admired for is wily intellect, Mark Twain penned down popular classic American novels. His achievements were part of a long journey in the pursuit of individual purpose, wealth and fame, a journey that saw him become a riverboat pilot, lecturer, journalist, inventor and entrepreneur.

At the age of four, his father moved the family to Hannibal, in search of better work and income to support his family. Twain lived in this bustling town, which would later inform his fictional locales. His schooling stopped following his father’s death at about 12 years of age. So as to fend for his keep, he tried his hand in a number of odd jobs, including joining the Confederate forces after the Civil War broke out.

In the aftermath of his involvement in the war, Clemens set out for the great American West where he thought he could achieve both excitement and financial prosperity. He began prospecting for gold and silver, a venture that was not as successful as initially presumed. In September 1861, he joined the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. It is while there that he adopted the name “Mark Twain” which is steamboat slang for twelve feet of water (Paine 218). He also honed his skills as an expert storyteller, editor and sketch generator, skills that were crucial in his first publication, The Innocents Abroad, in 1869. It was a best-seller in the West.

In the West, Mark Twain was overwhelmed by the sense of inferiority, a feeling shared by most westerners. This was spurred by the imposing and superior cultural life of the Eastern establishment, particularly in Boston and New York. As such, in 1870, he got married to Olivia Langdon, the daughter of a wealthy New York coal merchant, in order to improve his status . In 1876, he published The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and began working on Adventures of Huckleberry which were his most popular masterpieces.

Following the success of these titles, he published President Grant’s memoirs. They were highly acknowledged by the public. Towards the end of his life, Mark Twain’s personal life was characterized by grief and pain. Three of his children died prematurely from various illnesses as did his wife. His relationship with his middle daughter was also strained. He eventually died in April 1910 at the age of 74 at Redding, Connecticut. He was buried in New York.

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