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An adventurer and wily intellectual, Mark Twain wrote the classic American novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Mark Twain - Early Years (3:41)
In 1884 Mark Twain published The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and furthered his rebellious nature as one of America's premiere authors.
One of Mark Twain's most profitable ventures was the New York publishing house he founded and the memoir of Ulysses S. Grant that he published.
In the 1860's, Mark twain lived in San Francisco and was outraged by the treatment of the Chinese people living there.
Mark Twain's early life in Florida, Missouri served as a great inspiration for his later literary works, including his most famous character, Tom Sawyer.
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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.
"This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four."
"Civilization is a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessaries."
"New Year's is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls, and humbug resolutions ..."
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, later known as 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 entertaining crafts for all to see. However, violence was commonplace, young Sam witnessed much death. When he was 9 years old he saw a local man murder a cattle rancher, and at 10 he watched a slave die after a white overseer struck him with a piece of iron.
Hannibal inspired several of Mark Twain's fictional locales, including "St. Petersburg" in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. These imaginary river towns are complex places: sunlit and exuberant on the one hand, but also vipers' nests of cruelty, poverty, drunkenness, loneliness, and life-crushing boredom. All of that had been a part of Sam Clemens' boyhood experience.
Sam kept up his schooling until he was about 12 years old, when -- with his father dead and needing to earn his keep -- he found employment as an apprentice printer at the Hannibal Courier, which paid him with a meager ration of food. In 1851, at 15, he got a job as a printer and occasional writer and editor at the Hannibal Western Union, a little newspaper owned by his brother, Orion.
Then, in 1857, 21-year-old Clemens fulfilled a dream: He began learning the art of piloting a steamboat on the Mississippi.
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