Samuel Langhorne Clemens, also known as Mark Twain was born on November 30th, 1835 in Florida, Missouri. He is best known for being an author, his novels some of which were found humorous and some known for how he viewed America. One of Mark Twain’s famous quotes is “Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile.” Mark Twain was known to be an inspiration to the world especially when it came to literature in his time and is still found as an inspiration by other people and writers to this day.
Samuel was the sixth child of John and Jane Clemens. At the age of four, his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, which was on the banks of the Mississippi River. This state was known to be a state that took part in slavery. Growing up Samuel’s father actually owned an enslaved person, while his uncle owned many.
Samuel spent most of his time on his uncle’s farm, where he got to experience listenings to tales and spirituals while spending time at the enslaved people’s quarters. Then came 1847 which was when Samuel’s father died when he was only eleven. After the death of Samuel’s father, Samuel learned first hand on how difficult it is to provide for a family. Samuel eventually stopped school, found a job and worked for the local newspaper.
When Samuel reached his adult years, eighteen years old to be exact, he moved to New York and Philadelphia.
There he was able to work with quite a bit of newspaper companies and eventually found some success in his writing. The year 1857 then came around and yet again Samuel started a new career. At this time Samuel was now a steamboat pilot and had the opportunity to sale along the Mississippi River. Although, this career of his didn’t last very long, cause in 1861 was the outbreak of the Civil War. Due to the outbreak of the Civil War, Samuel and his brother Orion then moved to Nevada.
Samuel was once again on the search for a new career. During his search and his time in Nevada, Samuel encountered many things that specifically had to deal with the Native American tribe. He experienced different troubles and disappointments. But because of the trials he faced, this led to him writing short stories and books, “particularly Roughing It”. Samuel eventually found another career writing for the Territorial Enterprise‚ Virginia City‚ Nevada newspaper. This is the very place that Samuel finally used the name “Mark Twain.” In 1864 Samuel then headed to San Francisco where he continued to write for local papers and in 1865 he wrote his first popular piece titled The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, which was also his break through moment.
Samuel, continued his career and in 1870 he got married to Olivia Langdon. Samuel and Livy ended up staying in Buffalo, New York where Samuel then became a partner, editor and writer for the Buffalo Express newspaper. As time passed Samuel and his wife did have children and eventually moved to, Hartford, Connecticut. Unfortunately, Samuel and Livy also had to deal with a loss of one of their children due to illness. Despite the loss of their child, Samuel continued to write and publish.
As years passed Samuel completed some of his most famous books. Many of these books focused on the different issues that were faced in America at the time. One of the pieces that Samuel worked on, was actually one that he Co-wrote which was The Gilded Age‚ “a novel that attacked political corruption‚ big business, and the American obsession with getting rich that seemed to dominate the era.” Some of his other famous pieces were The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi The Prince and the Pauper A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. These books also focused on the many issues and events that were happening in America, such as: slavery, poor treatment of African Americans, new technology and he even wrote a book based on his life in Missouri. Through these novels, especially the novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Samuel gained so much financial success.
Samuel was quite successful when it came to his literature, but he once again faced unfortunate events and some might even say failure. According to A Life Lived in a Rapidly Changing World: Samuel L. Clemens‚ 1835-1910 it states that “Although Sam enjoyed financial success during his Hartford years‚ he continually made bad investments in new inventions‚ which eventually brought him to bankruptcy.” In order to pay back what he owed, Samuel and Livy and their children moved to Europe. Samuel had a publishing company which eventually failed and caused him the hold worldwide lectures in order to earn a living. While trying to earn a living through his lecture, Samuel suffered many losses. In 1896 he lost his daughter Susy to meningitis.
After the loss of his daughter and the struggles he went through, Samuel and his family traveled the globe. In their travels, Samuel gained inspiration in writing another novel because of what he witnessed. A Life Lived in a Rapidly Changing World: Samuel L. Clemens‚ 1835-1910, states, “During those years Sam witnessed the increasing exploitation of weaker governments by European powers‚ which he described in his book Following the Equator.” He eventually returned to the US with better finances and served as the Vice-President of the Anti-Imperialist League. Years past Samuels wife passed away in the year 1903, and he eventually followed in the year 1910.
Throughout his life Samuel experienced many different things which majority of the time led to him writing books, novels, poems, some of which that are really known now. Mark Twain isn’t known for the struggle he faced in his life, but he is known for how much his experiences and his novels impacted Literature. His novels such as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn not only mean a lot in his life but also American Literature. The article Mark Twain and the Shaping of American Literature states “Twain’s explicit sense of place is articulated in the rugged aesthetic of the American Midwest. The untouched labyrinth of underground caves, the secrets hidden in the planks of abandoned houses, and the natural landscape of the American Midwest in the aftermath of a bloody Civil War, explicitly defines Twain’s work as stories of place.” Through his experiences and the way he wrote his novels he taught us about dialect, speech patterns, slang and syntax of the dialogue, and allowing the readers to have an almost tangible experience when reading. Through the eyes of Mark Twain we were not only able to experience great American Literature but also Cultural History. The “American Humorist” the “Father of American Literature” is truly an American hero and will live on forever.