Mark Twain, the Classic American Writer

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Mark Twain, the Classic American Writer

Christened as Samuel Langhorne Clemens, Mark Twain was born on November 30, 1835 in the small river town of Florida, Missouri. He was the sixth child to John Marshall Clemens Jane Lampton, Twain grew up amid small-town life in Florida until the age of four, when his family relocated to Hannibal in hopes of an improved living situation. He is considered to be one of the major authors of American fiction. Twain’s varied works include novels, travel narratives, short stories, sketches, and essays. His writings about the Mississippi River, such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi, and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, have been especially popular among modern readers (Gribben: Boyhood and Travels).

Twain’s formal schooling ended after the age of 12, when his father passed away. First learning as an apprentice in a printer’s shop, and then working under his brother, Orion, Twain quickly became familiar with the newspaper trade. Twain indulged in the frontier humor that flourished in journalism at the time: tall tales, satirical pranks, and jokes. However, Twain was restless due to his inability to save his wages, and ultimately switched professions after realizing an old boyhood dream of becoming a river pilot. The profession of riverboat piloting paid well and brought Twain much attention, which he enjoyed. His piloting experiences also allowed him to observe the many kinds of people who traveled aboard the steamboats. He later reported that "in that brief, sharp schooling, I got personally and familiarly acquainted with about all the different types of human nature that are to be found in fiction, biography, or history." He first began publishing under his p...

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...ber of the literati, honored by Yale, the University of Missouri, and Oxford with literary degrees. Perhaps more than any other classic American writer, Mark Twain is seen not only as an author, but also as a personality that defined an era (Encarta Mark Twain).

Works Cited

Anonymous. “Twain, Mark," Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia.

Anonymous. “Mark Twain.” Monkeyshines on America April 1996: 32.

Gribben, Alan, "Twain, Mark: Boyhood and Travels, Newspaper Work in the West," World Book Online Americas Edition,, September 28, 2001.

Cooper, Robert. Around The World With Mark Twain. ed. Lewis Leary. New York: Arcade, 2000.

Emerson, Everett. Mark Twain: A Literary Life. Philadelphia: U of P Press, 1999.

Tenney, Thomas A. Mark Twain: A Reference Guide. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1977.
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