Life of “Mark Twain”

Life of Mark Twain was an American author, essayist and humorist. He was known as the “Father of American Literature’.

Mark Twain’s real name was Samuel Langhorne Clements. He was born in Florida, Missouri on November 30, 1835 to Jane and John Marshall Clements. When Twain was about four, his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, a small town of about five hundred people in search of better business opportunities. He was born two months premature and hence was a weak child.

As a baby, wasn’t expected to live a long life. His father died of pneumonia in 1847. When Twain lost his father, his family fell into a financial crisis. Twain had to work very hard to support his family.

At the age of eleven, Twain dropped out of school and became printer’s assistant. He started to work as typesetter in 1851. He occasionally contributed articles and humorous sketches in the Hannibal Journal, a local newspaper owned by his brother, Orion.

He eventually wrote a handful of short, satirical items for the publication. In 1853, a seventeen-year-old Twain left Hannibal. He traveled to places like New York City, Philadelphia and Keokuk, lowa, and also continued to work as a printer.

When Twain was 21, he achieved his dream of becoming of Steamboat man. He was thrilled when the Steamboat pilot Horace E. Bixby took him on as a student. Every day, he was trained in navigation on the Mississippi River. He was employed on a boat called ‘Pennsylvania’. After more than two years of harsh training, Twain became a licensed river pilot in 1858.

He was satisfied with his job and earned good money. However, his stint was cut short when the civil war broke out. Most of the civilian traffic on the river and the river trade was affected. Twain was forced to find alternative job.

Twain left Missouri and traveled west with his brother Orion. He struggled to re-establish himself and his career. He tried his luck at silver mining. This job did not suit him. So, he decided to become a reporter for a Virginia City Newspaper in 1862.

During this time, Twain chose the pen name” Mark Twain”, a river man’s slang for water that is just safe enough for navigation. Before he launched his literacy career, he published some of his letters and accounts of his travel in five travelogues.

He narrated his experience about his visit to the Western U.S and Asia. These were later put into collections like the Letters from Honolulu (1939) and others.    

He first enjoyed success as a writer in 1865. His witty story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras Country, was published in the New York weekly, The Saturday Press. In 1870, he was the editor and part-owner of the buffalo Express in New York.

In 1876, he released his masterpiece The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It was about a young boy, Tom Sawyer, growing up alongside the Mississippi River. The book, with its heart-warming tale of the young boy’s adventures, became a huge success.

In 1881, Twain published the novel The Prince and the Paper it was his first attempt at historical fiction. The story was about two young boys are identical in appearance. The novel inspired numerous theatrical productions and films.

Twain’s novel, The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn was published in 1884 and cemented his reputation as an author of international recognition.

Twain established himself as a successful writer, but failed as a businessman. Twain lost loads of money in some poor investments and ultimately went bankrupt. Alexander Graham Bell also offered him the chance to invest in his telephone invention. Sadly, Twain turned down the offer. He filed for bankruptcy in 1894. His friend came to his aid at this difficult time and helped him re-establish himself financially.

Twain was also a great featured speaker. He did many solo humorous performances and gave speeches in men’s clubs.

Mark Twain’s personal life was simple; he was happily married to his wife. When he served as a Steamboat man, Twain met Charles Langdon who introduced him to his sister, Olivia. Twain and Olivia married in 1870, they had four children.

Twain died of a heart attack on April 21, 1910 at the age of 74, during the appearance of Haley’s Comet, which had coincidentally also occurred during the time of his birth.