Mark Twain, (1835 -1910, pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens) 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).
Remembered for his adventure stories of boyhood, especially The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885). 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.
Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, which later provided the setting for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. He served an apprenticeship with a printer and then worked as a typesetter, contributing articles to the newspaper of his older brother Orion Clemens.
He later became a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before heading west to join Orion in Nevada. He referred humorously to his lack of success at mining, turning to journalism for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise.
His humorous story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”, was published in 1865, based on a story that he heard at Angels Hotel in Angels Camp, California, where he had spent some time as a miner. The short story brought international attention and was even translated into French.
His wit and satire, in prose and in speech, earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.
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Photograph Attribution © A. F. Bradley, Mark Twain, New York, 1907