Mark Twain was one of the most popular and well-known authors of the 1800s.
He is recognized for being a humorist. He used humor or social satire in his
best works. His writing is known for realism of place and language, memorable
characters, and hatred of hypocrisy and oppression (Mark Twain 1). Mark Twain
was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835. He was born on the
Missouri frontier in a small log village called Florida. His parents had come to
Florida from their former home in Tennessee (Unger 192). When Clemens was four,
he moved with his family to Hannibal, Missouri, a port on the Mississippi River
(Mark Twain 1). His father, who had studied law in Kentucky, was a local
magistrate and small merchant (Unger 193). When Samuel was twelve, his father
died. He was then apprenticed to two local printers (Unger 193). When he was
sixteen, Clemens began setting type for the local newspaper Hannibal Journal,
which his older brother Orion managed (Mark Twain 1). In 1853, when Samuel was
eighteen, he left Hannibal for St. Louis (Unger 194). There he became a steam
boat pilot on the Mississippi River. Clemens piloted steamboats until the Civil
War in 1861. Then he served briefly with the Confederate army (Mark Twain 1). In
1862 Clemens became a reporter on the Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City,
Nevada. In 1863 he began signing his articles with the pseudonym Mark Twain, a
Mississippi River phrase meaning two fathoms deep (Bloom 43). In 1865,
Twain reworked a tale he had heard in the California gold fields, and within
months the author and the story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras
County, had become national sensations (Bloom 47). In 1867 Twain lectured in New
York City, and in the same year he visited Europe and Palestine. He wrote of
these travels in The Innocents Abroad. This book exaggerated those aspects of
European culture that impress American tourists (Bain, Flora, and Rubin 103).
Many claim that The Innocents Abroad is Mark Twains second-best book (Unger
198). In 1870 he married Olivia Langdon. After living briefly in Buffalo, New
York, the couple moved to Hartford, Connecticut (Bain, Flora, and Rubin 104).
Much of Mark Twains best work was written in the 1870s and 1880s in
Hartford and during the summers at Quarry Farm, near Elmira, New York (Bain
Flora and Rubin 104). It was at Quarry Farm that he wrote Roughing It in 1872,
which recounts his early adventures as a miner and journalist. While vacationing
in New ...