|Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as the author Mark Twain, was born on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri.
His parents, John and Jane Clemens, moved their family to Hannibal, Missouri, in 1839, four years after Samuel was born.
Living in Hannibal, a port along the Mississippi River, Clemens developed a sort of bond with the river and as a child
aspired to one day be a steamboat pilot.
After his father's death in 1847, Clemens began an apprenticeship with Joseph Ament, publisher of the Missouri Courier, and by age 16 he worked as a printer and contributed his first published sketches for his brother Orion's Hannibal Western Union where he worked for the next two years. After this, Clemens went on to work as a printer in several other cities including Philadelphia and New York City. In 1857 Clemens began working as a cub pilot on Mississippi River steamboats and received his steamboat pilot license in 1859. For the next two years Twain worked as a steamboat pilot until 1861 when the American Civil was put a stop to travel on the river. Clemens volunteered in the Confederate calvary for a very brief period of time. Samuel joined his brother Orion that same year, and headed out west to the Nevada territory where he mined for silver. In 1862, he began working as a reporter for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise in Nevada. It was in 1863 that Samuel Clemens began using the pen name Mark Twain. The name was a phrased used on the steamboats of the Mississippi River which meant "two fathoms deep." From Nevada, Clemens moved on to San Francisco, California, where he wrote for San Francisco newspapers. He also worked in mines at Angel's Camp, California, where heard the tale that inspired his short story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." In 1866, Clemens gave his first lecture about the Sandwich islands. After this he began a lecture tour throughout California and Nevada and went on to give lectures in New York City during the next year.
From June to November of 1867, Clemens sailed on a ship called the Quaker City to Europe and the Mideast. He writes of his travels in his book The Innocents Abroad. After arriving back in the United States, he moved to Washington, D.C., to become the private secratary to Senator William Stewart. During this time he also traveled and gave lectures in California and Nevada. In 1868, Twain became engaged to Olivia Langdon, and in 1870 they married in Elmira, New York. The couple lived in Buffalo, New York, where Clemens worked as an editor and writer for the Buffalo Express. Shortly after the couple moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where Clemens wrote most of his best work. In 1872, Clemens published his book Roughing It, the tale of his life as a miner and jounalist in Nevada and California. This same year his daughter Susy Clemens was born. Clemens also traveled and gave lectures in England where he met writers such as Robert Browning and Lewis Caroll. In 1874 his second Daughter, Clara Clemens, was born. Tom Sawyer, one of Twain's most recognized works, was published in 1876. For the next few years Clemens traveled in Europe with his family. He and his family returned to Hartford in 1879, and in 1880 his daughter Jean was born. A Tramp Abroad, which describes his trip through the Black Forest of Germany and the Swiss Alps, was published in 1880. A year later The Prince and the Pauper was published. Clemens wrote about his life as a steamboat pilot in Life on the Mississippi which was published in 1883. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, considered to be Twain's masterpiece, was published in 1884, the same year he formed Charles L. Webster and Company to publish works of his own as well as other writers. The company went bankrupt in 1894 due to a bad investment in an automatic typesetting machine.
With the death of his wife and two daughters, Twain's work grew more and more pessimistic. During the 1890s and the 1900s he wrote Pudd'nhead Wilson, Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg, and The War Prayer. He also wrote several essays and began writing The Mysterious Stranger and an autobiogrophy which were never completed. Before he died Twain recieved an honorary doctorate from Oxford University. Although most of Twain's comtemporaries only recognized him as a humorist, Twain is given credit today for transforming American literature into something purely American by his original use of language, setting, and colorful American characters.