The Life and History of Mark Twain Essay

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Born on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri, Samuel L. Clemens wrote under the pen name Mark Twain and went on to pen several novels, including two major classics of American literature, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He was also a riverboat pilot, journalist, lecturer, entrepreneur and inventor. Twain died on April 21, 1910, in Redding, Connecticut. Writing grand tales about Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and the mighty Mississippi River, Mark Twain explored the American soul with wit, buoyancy, and a sharp eye for truth. He became nothing less than a national treasure. Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name, Mark Twain, was born on November 30, 1835, in the tiny village of Florida, Missouri, the sixth child of John and Jane Clemens. When he was 4 years old, the Clemens clan moved to nearby Hannibal, a bustling town of 1,000 people. John Clemens worked as a storekeeper, lawyer, judge and land speculator, dreaming of wealth but never achieving it, sometimes finding it hard to feed his family. He was an unsmiling fellow; according to one legend, young Sam never saw him laugh. His mother by contrast, was a fun-loving, tenderhearted homemaker who whiled away many a winter's night for her family by telling stories. She became head of the household in 1847 when John died unexpectedly. The Clemens family "now became almost destitute," writes biographer Everett Emerson, and was forced into years of economic struggle—a fact that would shape the career of Mark Twain. Sam Clemens lived in Hannibal from age 4 to age 17. The town, situated on the Mississippi River, was in many ways a splendid place to grow up. Steamboats arrived there three times a day, tooting their whistles; circuses, minstrel shows, and revivalists paid visits; a decent library was available; and tradesmen such as blacksmiths and tanners practiced their…