Samuel Clements!

 

Personal Background

On November 30th, 1835, the day Hailey’s comet was visible in the sky, Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born.  He was born in the town of Florida, Missouri and was the fifth child of John and Jane Clemens.  When Samuel was four years old, his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri.  Hannibal was a dusty, quiet, and not too far from large forest.  The surrounding land and waterways would later influence his writings.  Hannibal was referred to as “St. Petersburg” in his books The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn would become the initial settings in both of these books.  Not only did the town its self influence Samuel’s work, but the aspects of the town did as well.  The concept of slavery and the reality of death circled around his works.  Although Missouri was a slave state, Hannibal’s northern position resulted in a part slave/part free society.  Samuel claims that as a child he was unaware of the inhumanity of slavery and stated, “I had no aversion to slavery.  I was not aware that there was anything wrong with it”.

Writing Career

While in the Nevada Territory, Samuel continued writing humorous sketches and travel letters.  At this time he adapted his pen name “Mark Twain”.  This was a term used by boaters to describe water that was only two fathoms (twelve feet) deep.  Twain continued to sign his more serious writings as “S.L. Clemens,” but the farces, hoaxes, and satires that he was famous for were signed as “Mark Twain”.  When he realized how popular his humorous works had become, he began to travel extensively and write humorous travel letters for the San Francisco Alta California.  The Alta California sponsored his steamship journey from New York to the Mediterranean, and the resulting travel letters increased his audience and admirers.  Between 1864 and 1870, Twain contributed articles and travel letters to various newspapers and published Innocents Abroad in 1869.  He married Olivia Langdon, the daughter of Jervis Langdon, in 1870.  Like Twains father and mother, Olivia and her family’s abolitionist views influenced his writings.  Eventually, Olivia’s father and Twain both became friends with Frederick Douglass and supported the antislavery movement.  Because of the growing popularity of Innocents Aboard, Twain gave up his career as a journalist-reporter, and began writing short stories.  Later, in 1876, Twain added some elements from these stories and put them into his book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  In 1885, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published among much publicity and fanfire.

His Body of Work

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."




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