|Nicknames:||"Mark Twain", "Mark Twain & Josh"|
|Place of Burial:||Elmira, New York, United States|
|Birthplace:||Florida, Monroe County, MO, USA|
|Death:||Died in Redding, Fairfield County, CT, USA|
|Occupation:||Author / Raconteur, Author & Humorist, American Author, Mark Twain|
|Managed by:||Jeffrey Rollins|
About Samuel Langhorne Clemens
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by the pen name Mark Twain, wrote grand tales about Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and the mighty Mississippi River. He became nothing less than a national treasure. During his lifetime, Twain became a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty, and his keen wit and incisive satire earned him praise from both critics and peers. Upon his death he was lauded as the "greatest American humorist of his age," and William Faulkner called Twain "the father of American literature".
He was born on November 30, 1835, in the tiny village of Florida, Missouri, the sixth child of John and Jane Clemens. He spent his boyhood in nearby Hannibal, on the banks of the Mississippi River, observing its busy life, fascinated by its romance, but chilled by the violence and bloodshed it bred. Clemens was eleven years old when his lawyer father died. In order to help the family earn money, the young Clemens began working as a store clerk and a delivery boy. He also began working as an apprentice (working to learn a trade), then a compositor (a person who sets type), with local printers, contributing occasional small pieces to local newspapers. At seventeen his comic sketch "The Dandy Frightening the Squatter" was published by a sportsmen's magazine in Boston, Massachusetts.
In 1853 Clemens began wandering as a journeyman printer to St. Louis, Missouri; Chicago, Illinois; New York, New York; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; settling briefly with his brother, Orion, in Iowa before setting out at twenty-two years old to make his fortune, he hoped, beside the lush banks of the Amazon River in South America. Instead, traveling down the Mississippi River, he became a steamboat river pilot until the outbreak of the Civil War (1861–65), when Northern forces clashed with those of the South over slavery and secession (the South's desire to leave the Union).
In 1865 the Sacramento Union commissioned Mark Twain to report on a new excursion service to Hawaii. His accounts as published in the newspaper provided the basis for his first successful lectures and years later were collected in Letters from the Sandwich Islands (1938) and Letters from Honolulu (1939). His travel accounts were so well received that he was contracted in 1866 to become a traveling correspondent for the Alta California; he would circle the globe, writing letters.
In 1870 Twain married Olivia Langdon. After a brief residence in upstate New York as an editor and part owner of the Buffalo Express, he moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where he lived for twenty years; there three daughters were born, and prosperity as a writer and lecturer (in England in 1872 and 1873) seemed guaranteed. Roughing It (1872) recounted Mark Twain's travels to Nevada and reprinted some of the Sandwich Island letters.
Meanwhile Mark Twain's account of steamboating experiences for the Atlantic Monthly (1875; expanded to Life on the Mississippi, 1883) captured the beauty, glamor, and danger of the Mississippi River. Boyhood memories of life beside that river were written into The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1875), which immediately attracted young and old
Twain's Tom Sawyer, better organized than Huckleberry Finn, is a narrative of innocent boyhood play that accidentally discovers evil as Tom and Huck witness a murder by Injun Joe in a graveyard at midnight. The boys run away, are thought dead, but turn up at their own funeral. Tom and Huck decide to seek out the murderer and the reward offered for his capture. It is Tom and his sweetheart who, while lost in a cave, discover the hiding place of Injun Joe. Though the townspeople unwittingly seal the murderer in the cave, they close the entrance only to keep adventuresome boys like Tom out of future trouble. In the end, it is innocent play and boyish adventuring which really triumph.
Huckleberry Finn is considered by many to be Mark Twain's finest creation. Huck lacks Tom's imagination; he is a simple boy with little education. One measure of his character is a proneness to deceit, which seems instinctive, a trait shared by other wild things and relating him to nature—in opposition to Tom's tradition-grounded, book-learned, imaginative deceptions. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a loosely strung series of adventures, can be viewed as the story of a quest for freedom and an escape from what society requires in exchange for success. Joined in flight by a black companion, Jim, who seeks freedom from slavery, Huck discovers that the Mississippi is peaceful (though he is found to be only partially correct) but that the world along its shores is full of trickery, including his own, and by cruelty and murder. When the raft on which he and Jim are floating down the river is invaded by two criminals, Huck first becomes their assistant in swindles but is finally the agent of their exposure.
Whatever its faults, Twain's Huckleberry Finn is a classic. Variously interpreted, it is often thought to suggest more than it reveals, speaking of what man has done to confuse himself about his right relation to nature. It can also be thought of as a treatment of man's failures in dealing with his fellows and of the corruption that man's only escape is in flight, perhaps even from himself. Yet it is also an apparently artless story of adventure and escape so simply and directly told that novelist Ernest Hemingway (c.1899–1961) once said that all American literature begins with this book.
After a series of unsuccessful business ventures in Europe, Twain returned to the United States in 1900. His writings grew increasingly bitter, especially after his wife's death in 1905. The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg (1900) exposed corruption in a small, typical American town. Eve's Diary (1906), written partly in memory of his wife, showed a man saved from bungling only through the influence of a good woman.
In 1906 Twain began to dictate his autobiography to Albert B. Paine, recording scattered memories without any particular order. Portions from it were published in periodicals later that year. With the income from the excerpts of his autobiography, he built a large house in Redding, Connecticut, which he named Stormfield. There, after several trips to Bermuda to improve his declining health, he died on April 21, 1910.
Twain's legacy lives on today as his namesakes continue to multiply. Several schools are named after him, including Mark Twain Elementary School in Houston, Texas, which has a statue of Twain sitting on a bench, and Mark Twain Intermediate School in New York. There are several schools named Mark Twain Middle School in different states, as well as Samuel Clemens High School in Schertz, near San Antonio, Texas. There are also other structures, such as the Mark Twain Memorial Bridge.
Mark Twain Village is a United States Army installation located in the Südstadt district of Heidelberg, Germany. It is one of two American bases in the United States Army Garrison Heidelberg that house American soldiers and their families (the other being Patrick Henry Village).
Awards in his name proliferate. In 1998, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts created the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, awarded annually. The Mark Twain Award is an award given annually to a book for children in grades four through eight by the Missouri Association of School Librarians. Stetson University in DeLand, Florida sponsors the Mark Twain Young Authors' Workshop each summer in collaboration with the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum in Hannibal. The program is open to young authors in grades five through eight. The museum sponsors the Mark Twain Creative Teaching Award. A plaque honoring Mark Twain on the Sydney Writers Walk in Sydney, Australia
Buildings associated with Twain, including some of his many homes, have been preserved as museums. His birthplace is preserved in Florida, Missouri. The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum in Hannibal, Missouri preserves the setting for some of the author's best known work. The home of childhood friend Laura Hawkins, said to be the inspiration for his fictional character Becky Thatcher, is preserved as the "Thatcher House".In May 2007, a painstaking reconstruction of the home of Tom Blankenship, the inspiration for Huckleberry Finn, was opened to the public. The family home he had built in Hartford, Connecticut, where he and his wife raised their three daughters, is preserved and open to visitors as the Mark Twain House.
Actor Hal Holbrook created a one-man show called Mark Twain Tonight, which he has performed regularly for 50 years. The broadcast by CBS in 1967 won him an Emmy Award. Of the three runs on Broadway (1966, 1977, and 2005), the first won him a Tony Award.
Additionally, like countless influential individuals, Twain was honored by having an asteroid, 2362 Mark Twain, named after him.
Often, Twain is depicted in pop culture as wearing a white suit. While there is evidence that suggests that, after Livy's death in 1904, Twain began wearing white suits on the lecture circuit, modern representations suggesting that he wore them throughout his life are unfounded. There is no evidence of him wearing a white suit before 1904; however, it did eventually become his trademark, as illustrated in anecdotes about this eccentricity (such as the time he wore a white summer suit to a Congressional hearing during the winter). McMasters' "Mark Twain Encyclopedia" states that Twain did not wear a white suit in his last three years, except at one banquet speech.
(1867) The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (fiction)
(1868) General Washington's Negro Body-Servant (fiction)
(1868) My Late Senatorial Secretaryship (fiction)
(1869) The Innocents Abroad (non-fiction travel)
(1870–71) Memoranda (monthly column for The Galaxy Magazine (1866))
(1871) Mark Twain's (Burlesque) Autobiography and First Romance (fiction)
(1872) Roughing It (non-fiction)
(1873) The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (fiction, made into a play)
(1875) Sketches New and Old (fictional stories)
(1875) Some Learned Fables for Good Old Boys and Girls (fiction, short story)
(1876) Old Times on the Mississippi (non-fiction)
(1876) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (fiction)
(1876) A Murder, a Mystery, and a Marriage (fiction); (1945, private edition), (2001, Atlantic Monthly).
(1877) A True Story and the Recent Carnival of Crime (stories)
(1877) The Invalid's Story (fiction)
(1878) Punch, Brothers, Punch! and other Sketches (fiction)
(1879) The Great Revolution in Pitcairn (fiction)
(1880) A Tramp Abroad (travel)
(1880) 1601: Conversation, as it was by the Social Fireside, in the Time of the Tudors (fiction)
(1882) The Prince and the Pauper (fiction)
(1883) Life on the Mississippi (non-fiction (mainly))
(1884) Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (fiction)
(1889) A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (fiction)
(1892) The American Claimant (fiction)
(1892) Merry Tales (fiction)
(1892) Those Extraordinary Twins (fiction)
(1893) The £1,000,000 Bank Note and Other New Stories (fictional stories)
(1894) Tom Sawyer Abroad (fiction)
(1894) The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson (fiction)
(1896) Tom Sawyer, Detective (fiction)
(1896) Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (fiction)
(1897) How to Tell a Story and other Essays (non-fictional essays)
(1897) Following the Equator (non-fiction travel)
(1898) Concerning the Jews (non-fiction)
(1898) Is He Dead? (play)
(1900) The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg (fiction)
(1900) A Salutation Speech From the Nineteenth Century to the Twentieth (essay)
(1901) The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Updated (satire)
(1901) Edmund Burke on Croker and Tammany (political satire)
(1901) To the Person Sitting in Darkness (essay)
(1901) To My Missionary Critics (essay) The North Atlantic Review 172 (April 1901)
(1902) A Double Barrelled Detective Story (fiction)
(1904) A Dog's Tale (fiction)
(1904) Extracts from Adam's Diary (fiction)
(1905) King Leopold's Soliloquy (political satire)
(1905) The War Prayer (fiction)
(1906) The $30,000 Bequest and Other Stories (fiction)
(1906) What Is Man? (essay)
(1906) Eve's Diary (fiction)
(1907) Christian Science (non-fiction)
(1907) A Horse's Tale (fiction)
(1909) Is Shakespeare Dead? (non-fiction)
(1909) Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven (fiction)
(1909) Letters from the Earth (fiction, published posthumously)
(1910) Queen Victoria's Jubilee (non-fiction)
(1912) My Platonic Sweetheart (dream journal, possibly non-fiction)
(1916) The Mysterious Stranger (fiction, possibly not by Twain, published posthumously)
(1922) The Writings of Mark Twain, 37 vols., Albert Bigelow Paine editor, Gabriel Wells, New York, 1922–1925, out-of-print definitive edition first edition.
(1923) The United States of Lyncherdom (essay, published posthumously)
(1924) Mark Twain's Autobiography (non-fiction, published posthumously)
(1935) Mark Twain's Notebook (published posthumously)
(1946) The Portable Mark Twain, Bernard DeVoto editor, Penguin Classics (2004), ISBN 0142437759
(1962) Letters from the Earth (posthumous, edited by Bernard DeVoto)
(1969) No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger (fiction, published posthumously)
(1992) Mark Twain's Weapons of Satire: Anti-Imperialist Writings on the Philippine-American War. Jim Zwick, ed. (Syracuse University Press) ISBN 0-8156-0268-5 (previously uncollected, published posthumously)
(1995) The Bible According to Mark Twain: Writings on Heaven, Eden, and the Flood (published posthumously)
(2009) Who is Mark Twain? (HarperStudio) ISBN 9780061735004 (previously unpublished, published posthumously)
(2010) Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1. (University of California Press, November 15, 2010) (ISBN 978-0520267190) (published 100 years after death)
Samuel Langhorne Clemens adopted the pseudonym "Mark Twain" after he spent two years as a steamboat
pilot. "mark twain" is a term that means that a river is the minimum depth for safe navigation. After an unsuccessful attempt
at gold and silver mining, he joined the staff of a Nevada newspaper where he first used the name "Mark Twain" to sign a
humerous travel letter. He would continue to use the name for nearly 50 years and dozens of publications.
Mark Twain was the pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, b. Florida, Mo., Nov. 30, 1835, d. Apr. 21, 1910, who achieved worldwide fame during his lifetime as an author, lecturer, satirist, and humorist. Since his death his literary stature has further increased, with such writers as Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner declaring his works--particularly HUCKLEBERRY FINN--a major influence on 20th-century American fiction.
Twain was raised in Hannibal, Mo., on the Mississippi River. His writing career began shortly after the death of his father in 1847. Apprenticed first to a printer, he soon joined his brother Orion's Hannibal Journal, supplying copy and becoming familiar with much of the frontier humor of the time, such as George W. Harris's Sut Lovingood yarns and other works of the so-called Southwestern Humorists.
From 1853 to 1857, Twain visited and periodically worked as a printer in New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Cincinnati, corresponding with his brother's newspapers under various pseudonyms. After a visit to New Orleans in 1857, he learned the difficult art of steamboat piloting, an occupation that he followed until the Civil War closed the river, and that furnished the background for "Old Times on the Mississippi" (1875), later included in the expanded Life on the Mississippi (1883).
In 1861, Twain traveled by stagecoach to Carson City, Nev., with his brother Orion, who had been appointed territorial secretary. After unsuccessful attempts at silver and gold mining, he returned to writing as a correspondent for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. At first he signed his humorous and imaginative sketches "Josh," but early in 1863 he adopted the now-famous name Mark Twain, borrowed from the Mississippi leadsman's call meaning "two fathoms" deep--safe water for a steamboat.
Twain went to San Francisco in 1864. Dubbed the "Wild Humorist of the Pacific Slope," he achieved a measure of national fame with his story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" (1865). A trip to Hawaii in 1866 furnished articles for the Sacramento Union and materials for the first lecture, on his return, in a long and successful career as a public speaker. The following year he traveled to the Mediterranean and the Holy Land, providing letters to the San Francisco Alta California that, in their revised form as The Innocents Abroad (1869), won immediate international attention.
In 1870, Twain married Olivia Langdon of Elmira, N.Y. After serving briefly as editor and part-owner of the Buffalo Express, he moved to Hartford, Conn., in 1871, abandoning journalism in order to devote his full attention to serious literature. There, and during summers in Elmira, he produced Roughing It (1872), an account of his Western years; The Gilded Age (1873, with Charles Dudley Warner), a satire of get-rich-quick schemes and political chicanery; the new pieces for Sketches, New and Old (1875); and TOM SAWYER (1875), his classic tale of boyhood.
A European sojourn in 1878-79 inspired A Tramp Abroad (1880), soon followed by The Prince and the Pauper (1882), Twain's first historical novel. He later turned to history again in the allegorical satire A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889), a powerful fictional indictment of political and social injustice. Meanwhile, he completed Life on the Mississippi (1883) and, after establishing his own firm, Charles L. Webster and Co., published his masterpiece, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, in 1884.
Increasingly involved financial problems prompted Twain to move to Europe in 1891, just after finishing The American Claimant (1892). In 1894, following the failure of his publishing company and of the Paige typesetting machine in which he had invested heavily, Twain was forced to declare bankruptcy. During this period he turned out a number of works, generally inferior to his best: The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894), Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894), Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896), and Tom Sawyer, Detective (1896). In 1895, to help recoup his losses, he embarked on a world lecture tour, later described in Following the Equator (1897).
Although his financial situation rapidly improved, additional stress and sorrow came with the deaths of Twain's daughter Susy in 1896 and of his wife in 1904. His writings of the late 1890s and 1900s became more pessimistic than ever; "The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg" (1898) and What Is Man? (1906) are particularly scathing examinations of human nature. Yet, these works also imply that proper understanding of human motivations can result in progress. Moreover, volumes in the Mark Twain Papers series--Which Was the Dream?, and Other Symbolic Writings of the Later Years (1967), Mark Twain's Mysterious Stranger Manuscripts (1969), and Mark Twain's Fables of Man (1972)--suggest that the period was not the wasteland described by some critics.
H. G. Baetzhold
Bibliography: Anderson, Frederick, and Sanderson, K. M., eds., Mark Twain: The Critical Heritage (1972); Blair, Walter, Mark Twain and Huck Finn (1960; repr. 1973); Bridgman, Richard, Traveling with Mark Twain (1987); Brooks, Van Wyck, Ordeal of Mark Twain, rev. ed. (1933; repr. 1977); Budd, Louis J., ed., Critical Essays on Mark Twain (1983); De Voto, Bernard, Mark Twain's America (1932; repr. 1978); Fatout, Paul, Mark Twain on the Lecture Circuit (1960); Giddings, Robert, ed., Mark Twain (1985); Howells, William Dean, My Mark Twain (1910; repr. 1977); Kaplan, Justin, Mark Twain and His World (1974) and Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain (1966); Lauber, John, The Inventions of Mark Twain (1990); Neider, Charles, ed., The Autobiography of Mark Twain (1975; repr. 1990); Paine, Albert B., Mark Twain: A Biography, 3 vols., (1935); Sanborn, Margaret, Mark Twain: The Bachelor Years (1990); Sanderlin, George, Mark Twain as Others Saw Him (1978); Steinbrink, Jeffrey, Getting to Be Mark Twain (1991).
Mark Twain's Timeline
November 30, 1835
Florida, Monroe County, MO, USA
Hannibal, Marion, Missouri
Hannibal, Marion, Missouri
St Louis Ward 6, St Louis (Independent City), Missouri
February 2, 1870
Elmira, Chemung, New York, USA
November 7, 1870
Elmira, Chemung, New York, USA
March 19, 1872
Elmira, Chemung, New York, USA