Mark Twain

Mark Twain

Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in Missouri in 1835, the son of a lawyer. Early in his childhood, the family moved to Hannibal, Missouri - a town which would provide the inspiration for St Petersburg in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. After a period spent as a travelling printer, Clemens became a river pilot on the Mississippi: a time he would look back upon as his happiest. When he turned to writing in his thirties, he adopted the pseudonym Mark Twain ('Mark Twain' is the cry of a Mississippi boatman taking depth measurements, and means 'two fathoms'), and a number of highly successful publications followed, including The Prince and the Pauper (1882), Huckleberry Finn (1884) and A Connecticut Yankee (1889). His later life, however, was marked by personal tragedy and sadness, as well as financial difficulty. In 1894, several businesses in which he had invested failed, and he was declared bankrupt. Over the next fifteen years - during which he managed to regain some measure of financial independence - he saw the deaths of two of his beloved daughters, and his wife. Increasingly bitter and depressed, Twain died in 1910, aged seventy-five.

Books by Mark Twain