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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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Some of these later works have enduring merit. His unfinished take The Chronicle of Young Satan has fervent admirers today.
Mark Twain's last fifteen years were filled with public honors, including degrees from Oxford and Yale. Probably the most famous American of the late 19th century, he was much photographed and applauded wherever he went. Indeed, he was one of the most prominent celebrities in the world, traveling widely overseas,
including a successful round-the-world lecture tour in 1895-'96, undertaken to pay off his debts.
But while those years were gilded with awards, they also brought him much anguish. Early in their marriage he and Livy had lost their toddler son, Langdon to diphtheria; now in 1896 his favorite daughter, Susy, died at the age of 24 of spinal meningitis. The loss broke his heart, and adding to his grief, he was out of the country when it happened. His youngest daughter, Jean, was diagnosed with sever epilepsy in the mid-1890s; some years later, during epileptic attacks, she twice tried to murder her housekeeper. In 1909, when she was 29 years old, she died of a heart attack. For many years, Twain's relationship with middle daughter Clara was distant and full of quarrels.
In June 1904, Livy died after a long illness. Her husband traveled often while she was sick. "The full nature of his feelings toward her is puzzling," writes scholar R. Kent Rasmussen. "If he treasured Livy's comradeship as much as he often said, why did he spend so much time away from her?" But absent or not, throughout 34 years of marriage, Twain had indeed loved his wife. "Wheresoever she was, there was Eden," he wrote in tribute to her.
Twain became somewhat bitter in his later years, even while projecting an amiable persona to his public. In private he demonstrated a stunning insensitivity to friends and loved ones. "Much of the last decade of his life, he lived in hell," wrote Hamlin Hill. He wrote a fair amount was unable to finish most of his projects. His memory faltered. He had volcanic rages and nasty bouts of paranoia, and he experienced many periods of depressed indolence, which he tried to assuage by smoking cigars, reading in bed, and playing endless hours of billiards and cards.
Samuel Clemens died on April 21, 1910, at the age of 74, at his country home in Redding, Connecticut. He was buried in Elmira, New York.
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