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Mark Twain is the pen name of the late Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He was America’s most famous humorist and also wrote wonderful autobiographical works and novels. He was born on November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri and spent most of his childhood in Hannibal, Missouri. Clemens was not well educated. His father died when Clemens was only eight years old and left him with the burden of helping to provide for the family. In 1851, Samuel’s older brother Orion became a newpaper publisher and so Samuel worked for him as a printer.

In 1853, Clemens worked his way east as a printer for newspapers in St. Louis, New York City and Philadelphia. He also worked for a few years as a steamboat pilot and a reporter on the western frontier. He became the traveling correspondent of the San Francisco Alta California newspaper in 1866. This took him abroad on excursions to France, Italy, Greece, Turkey and the Holy Land. In 1867, Clemens fell in love with Olivia Langdon, a delicate, cultured, semi-invalid young girl from the East Coast. Her well-to-do family gave the consent and they were married in 1870. They lived in Buffalo, New York and then Hartford, Connecticut.

In 1873, Clemens began to turn some of his experiences and memories into fictional works. He shocked many of his readers by his irreverence and unconventional attitudes about lifestyles on the 1800’s. One of his first novels was titled “The Gilded Age” and was co-authored by his neighbor, Charles Dudley Warner. Under his pen name Mark Twain, Clemens is best known for writing “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876)”, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (1880) and “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” (1889).

Through the late 1800's Clemens continued to write and lecture. Sadly, many of his siblings, his wife and one daughter died before he did. Some feel this darkened his writing style. Clemens died April 21, 1910. His contributions to American literature are embraced even today.