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Biography Of Mark Twain

SAMUEL LANGHORNE CLEMENS, better known as Mark Twain, was born in Florida, Monroe County, Missouri, November 30, 1835. His works have been immensely popular, and have brought him an ample fortune, thus enabling him to devote his entire time to literature.

He attended a common school until he was thirteen, when he entered the printing office of the “Courier” at Hannibal, Missouri, as an apprentice. Subsequently he pursued his trade in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and New York. “In 1855 he went to New Orleans intending to take passage for Para, to explore the Amazon, and to engage in the cacao trade; but the fact that there was no ship from New Orleans to Para prevented the fulfillment of his plans. On his way down the Mississippi, he had made friends with the pilots, and for the consideration of $500 they engaged to make him a St. Louis and New Orleans pilot. He went up and down the river steering and studying the 1,275 miles of the route, and after a time received his license, and secured a situation as a pilot at $250 per month.” The incidents of his career as a pilot form some of his happiest sketches.

In 1861 his brother received the appointment as secretary of the Territory of Nevada, and Samuel accompanied him as his private secretary. He worked in the mines for about a year, and says in his “Roughing It” that he was really worth a million dollars for just ten days, and lost it through his own heedlessness. He then shoveled quartz in a silver mill for ten dollars a week for one week only. All of these experiences are turned to account most admirably in his writings; and they formed an excellent schooling for him.

He commenced his literary labor by means of occasional letters to the Virginia City “Enterprise.” In 1862 he became editor of “The Enterprise,” a position he held for three years. Part of the time he reported legislative proceedings from Carson, summing up results in weekly letters to “The Enterprise,” which he signed “Mark Twain.” The name calls to mind his steamboat days on the Mississippi, where it indicated a depth of two fathoms of water. Mark Twain is now a name better known in literature than in steamboat vernacular. He next went to San Francisco, and for five months reported for the “Morning Call” newspaper. In pursuit of wealth, he next went to Calaveras County, where he dug for gold for about three months without result. Returning to San Francisco, he followed the newspaper business for a short time. In 1866 he spent about six months on the Hawaiian Islands. Returning again to California, with considerable reputation he entered the lecture field, and was more than successful. His peculiar vein of humor tickled the public ear, hence he decided to give his thoughts to the world in book form. In 1867 he went East and brought out his first book in New York. “The Jumping Frog and Other Sketches” was at once popular, and was immediately republished in England.

Finding that his style pleased the public exceedingly, he entered upon his career as author with systematic earnestness. In 1867 he crossed the Atlantic in the steamer Quaker City, and traveled through Spain, Italy, Greece, Egypt and the Holy Land. The account of his travels appeared in 1869, in that marvel of wit and humor, “The Innocents Abroad.” Within three years, the work reached the enormous sale of 125,000 copies. Mark Twain edited a daily paper at Buffalo, for a short time, but soon entered the lecture field again and revisited England in 1872. In the same year, he published “Roughing It,” which reached a sale of 91,000 in nine months. At this time, London publishers gathered all his sketches, many of which were never published in America, and many of which were not written by Mark Twain, and issued them in four volumes. From the pen of this American genius and humorist have proceeded the “New Pilgrim’s Progress,” “Tramp Abroad,” “Burlesque Autobiography,” “Eye-openers,” “Good Things,” “Sereanners,” “A Gathering of Scraps,” “The Gilded Age,” “Tom Sawyer,” “Life on the Mississippi,” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” His works are published in the Old World at London and Leipsic, and are very popular on both sides of the Atlantic.

His language is pure and elevated, except when it is necessary to use the language of classes to represent certain characters. The world is bound to laugh as long as his works are kept in print.


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