Mark Twain

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Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, is perhaps the most distinguished author of American Literature. Next to William Shakespeare, Clemens is arguably the most prominent writer the world has ever seen. In 1818, Jane Lampton found interest in a serious young lawyer named John Clemens. With the Lampton family in heavy debt and Jane only 15 years of age, she soon arried John. The family moved to Gainesboro, Tennessee where Jane gave birth to Orion Clemens. In the summer of 1827 the Clemenses relocated to Virginia where John

purchased thousands of acres of land and opened a legal advice store. The lack of success of the store led John to drink heavily. Scared by his addiction, John vowed never to drink again. Even though John now resisted alcohol, he faced other addictions. His concoction of aloe, rhubarb, and a narcotic cost him most of his savings and money soon became tight (Paine 34-35).

The family soon grew with the birth of Pamela late in 1827. Their third child,Pleasant Hannibal, did not live past three months, due to illness. In 1830 Margaret was born and the family moved to Pall Mall, a rural county in Tennessee. After Henry’s birth in 1832, the value of their farmland greatly depreciated and sent the Clemenses on the road again. Now they would stay with Jane’s sister in Florida, Missouri where she ran a successful business with her husband. Clemens was born on November 30, 1835, in the small remote town of Florida, Missouri. Samuel’s parents, John Marshall and Jane Lampton Clemens never gave up on their child, who was two months premature with little

hope of survival. This was coincidentally the same night as the return of Halley’s Comet. The Clemenses were a superstitious family and believed that Halley’s Comet was a portent of good fortune. Writing as Mark Twain, Samuel L. Clemens would claim that Florida,Missouri “contained 100 people and I increased the population by one percent. It is more than the best man in history ever did for any other town” (Hoffman 15).

1847 proved to be a horrific year for John Clemens. He ventured to Palmyra in order to find work on the county seat. On his voyage home he found himself in a devastating snowstorm which left him ill with pneumonia. He stayed at his friend Dr.Grant’s house, ill and jaded, where he rested and grew weak. He died on March 24, 1847 at the age of 48 (Kaplan 112-125...

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...true. On the night of April 21 he set his gaze on Halley’s Comet, sank into a coma and died (Cox 218).

Essentially no one any longer ponders the place of Mark Twain in American literature, or in international literature. A pioneer in writing, William Dean Howells best sums Mark Twain up with, “There was never anybody like him; there never will be”

(Hoffman 497).

Works Cited

Cox, Clinton. Mark Twain: America’s Humorist, Dreamer, Prophet. New York:

Scholastic Inc.1995

Hoffman, Andrew. Inventing Mark Twain: The lives of Samuel L. Clemens. New York:

William Morrow 1997

Kaplan, Justin. Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain: A Biography. New York: Simon and

Schuster 1966

Long, Hudson E. and J.R. Lemaster. The New Mark Twain Handbook. New York and

London: Garland Publishing Inc. 1985

Lyttle, Richard B. Mark Twain: The Man and His Adventures. New York: Macmillan

Publishing Company 1994

MiningCo. Research. “Mark Twain- Home Page” Online. Internet 1999

Paine, Albert Bigelow. Mark Twain: A Biography. New York: Harper and Brothers,


Robinson Research. “Samuel Langhorne Clemens a.k.a. Mark Twain”. Online.

Internet 1998
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