Mark Twain-A Biographical Sketch
The American author and humorist Mark Twain’ s real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He was born in Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835, to a Tennessee country merchant John Marshall Clemens and his wife, Jane Lampton Clemens. His birth two weeks after the closest approach of Halley’s Comet to Earth was considered a significant coincidence.
While twain was the sixth of the seven children, four of his siblings died when he was a child. At the age of four, Twain moved with his family to the port town on the Mississippi River, Hannibal, in Missouri. This town served as the inspiration for the fictional town of St.Petersburg in The Adventures of the Tom Sawyer (1876) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884).
Being a slave state, Missouri provided Twain with a thorough exposure to the institution of slavery, which later became a theme of his writings. At the age of eleven, Twain lost his father and led him to become a printer’s apprentice. Soon he picked the art of typesetting, and that allowed him to contribute regular articles and humorous sketches to Hannibal Journal, a newspaper owned by his brother Orion.
When he was 18, Mark Twain left Hannibal and worked as a printer in New York, Philadelphia, St Louis, and Cincinnati. The three years he spent in these cities was fruitful for him, as he could join the union of literati of the time and educate himself in public libraries in the evenings.
On a voyage to New Orleans down the Mississippi, steamboat pilot Horace E. Bixby inspired Twain to pursue a career as a steamboat pilot. So that would endow him with a vast knowledge of the ever-changing river, enabling to stop at hundreds of ports and wood-lots along the river banks. Twain took the challenge of studying a distance of 2,000 miles (3,200 km) of the Mississippi meticulously for more than two years before he received his steamboat pilot license in 1859. He continued to work on the river and served as a river pilot until the American Civil War broke out in 1861, and traffic along the Mississippi was curtailed.
Having given up his job as a steamboat pilot, he started traveling within the USA as well as Europe and the Middle East. Throughout the years he spent in the faraway places, he worked as a journalist. The experiences he had during his journeys inspired his great works, Roughing It, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras Country, and Letter From Carson(1863) (which he signed for the first time Mark Twain), and The Innocents Abroad.
Twain met his wife Olivia Langdon in 1868 and married in February 1870. The couple lived in Buffalo, New York, from 1869 to 1871, but they left the place due to the sad death of their 19-months old son Langdon. In 1871, Twain moved his family to Hartford, Connecticut, where starting in 1873, he arranged the building a home. (Now it remains a museum focused on Mark Twain) While living, Olivia gave birth to three daughters: Susy, Clara, and Jean. The couple’s marriage lasted 34 years until Olivia died in 1904.
More Mark Twain Facts
During his seventeen years in Hartford(1874-1891), Twain wrote many of his best-known works: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer(1876), The Prince and the Pauper (1881), Life on the Mississippi 1883, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn(1884), and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court(1889). (Even it’s nearly been a century and a half since these books written Mark Twain books still do a great job among worldwide and every age of people. A lot of countries recommend Mark Twain books for their school English Literature syllabus.)
Mark Twain’s second tour of Europe in 1880 was described in A Tramp Abroad. A man gifted with tremendous powers of artistic and critical imagination was also fascinated with science and scientific inquiry. He developed a close and lasting friendship with Nikola Tesla, and the two spent much time together in Tesla’s laboratory. His book, a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, features a time traveler from contemporary America, using his knowledge of science to introduce modern technology to Arthurian England. This type of storyline would later become a common feature of the science fiction sub-genre.
In 1909 his creativity inspired Thomas Edison to visit Twain at his home in Redding, Connecticut, and film him. Twain’s interest in scientific inventions, particularly the beautifully engineered but trouble-prone Paige typesetting machine, caused him substantial financial losses. Not only the bulk of his book profits but also a large portion of the inheritance of his wife. Even his publishing house became a financial failure. However, Twain’s writings and lectures, combined with the help of his new friend Henry Huttleston Rogers enabled him to recover financially.
Yet Twain embarked on an around-the-world lecture in 1894 to pay off his creditors in full. But he was no longer under in legal obligation to do so, and returned to America in 1900, having earned enough to pay off his debts.
Twain passed through a period of deep depression, which began in 1896 when his daughter Susy died of meningitis. Olivia’s death in 1904 and Jean’s on December 24, 1909, deepened his gloom. On May 20, 1909, his close friend Henry Rogers died suddenly.
In recognition of his grate writings, Oxford University awarded Twain an honorary doctorate in letters(D.Litt.) in 1907. In 1909, Twain was quoted as saying:” I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Haley’s comet.”
The Almighty has said, no doubt:’Now here are those two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they might go out together.’
His prediction was accurate-Twain died of a heart attack on April 21, 1910, in Redding, Connecticut, one day after the comet’s closest approach to earth that year.
Places Named In Honor of Mark Twain
This writer overcame limitations brought his way by his origin and childhood background to become America’s beloved and one of the best authors. To honor this great name, there are several places named after Mark Twain.Read 10 Places Named In Honor of Mark Twain
Mark Twain Quotes
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Sasindu Jayasri is an Engineering student at Faculty of Engineering, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka.