Mark Twain: The Genius Who Created Some of the World’s Most Beloved Literature

Mark Twain : Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) was one of the most famous writers in American literature, Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri, in 1835, and grew up in nearby Hannibal, a village on the Mississippi River. His father died in 1847, leaving the family with little financial support, and Clemens became a printer’s apprentice, eventually working for his brother, Orion, who had set himself up in Hannibal as a newspaper publisher. After spending a year setting type for newspapers on the east coast, Clemens returned in 1854 to rejoin Orion, who by this time, had moved on to start a newspaper in Keokuk, lowa.

Through all his years in the print shop, Clemens tried his hand at composing humorous pieces, using the heavy-handed techniques of local colourists who were popular at the time. By 1856, he was accomplished enough to receive a commission from the Keokuk Saturday Post for a series of comical letters reporting on his planned travels to South America, But on his way down the Mississippi Clemens temporarily abandoned his literary ambitions to take up a trade he had dreamt about as a boy.

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He apprenticed himself to become a riverboat pilot, and after 18 months of training, spent the next three years navigating the Mississippi’s ever-changing waters When the Civil War closed traffic on the river in the spring of 1861 he spent a few inglorious weeks as a volunteer in the Confederate army, then deserted to join Orion again, whose abolitionist views had won him appointment as a territorial secretary in Nevada.

By mid-August, the brothers were in Carson City, where Clemens tried his luck with timber, then mining, and then finally found a measure of success in 1862, as a feature writer for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise It was as this newspaper’s reporter at the Nevada constitutional convention that Clemens began to sign his work, “Mark Twain.”

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The experience of filing daily reports on the picturesque doings in a Nevada mining town helped Clemens sharpen and broaden his abilities as a writer. After two years, he carried those talents to San Francisco, where he wrote for a variety of newspapers and periodicals, among them, The Californian, edited by Bret Harte, Though they were to quarrel later, at this time, Clemens and Harte shared a common ambition, and the more experienced Harte proved a valuable guide as Clemens tried to work the comic artifice out of his humour and develop a more natural, conversational style.

With The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, published in 1865 by The Saturday Press of New York, and reprinted by newspapers across the country, this style made its first appearance, a style readers would soon come to recognise as the voice of Mark Twain.
Clemens left San Francisco in 1866, reporting first on his travels to Hawaii for the Sacramento Union, then heading back east with an open assignment for humorous travel writing from the San Francisco Alta California.

After a brief return to Missouri, he took up the literary life in New York where he polished his lucrative talent as an ning lecturer. Then he set sail in 1867 on a grand tour of the Mideast. The reports of this journey which he sent San Francisco and New York later became his first best-seller, Innocents Abroad (1869).

on his return to the United States, Mark Twain married Olivia Langdon of Elmira, New York, in 1870, after a long courtship. The de settled briefly in Buffalo, New York, and then permanently in Hartford Connecticut, where he finally turned from journalism to produce the books and novels that are the basis of his fame.

One of the first in this string was Roughing It (1872), an autobiographical account of his years in the West told in the humorous style of his travel writing, which pits a self-confident observer against a setting which he both comically misinterprets and ironically understands only too well.

This element of self-conscious irony, rooted here in memory, would become the hallmark of Clemens’ best work, especially evident in the novels set in his boyhood world beside the Mississippi River, such as, Tom Sawyer (1876) and his masterpiece, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884).

Mark Twain’s wife’s death in 1904, and the loss of his second daughter too in 1909, deepened his gloom. He had once humorously predicted that, since his birth had coincided with the appearance of Halley’s Comet, his own death would come when the comet next returned. This prophecy was fulfilled when he died of heart disease at his home in Redding, Connecticut, on April 21, 1910.

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