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Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called "the Great American Novel."
Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which provided the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. After an apprenticeship with a printer, he worked as a typesetter and contributed articles to the newspaper of his older brother Orion Clemens. He later became a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before heading west to join Orion in Nevada. He referred humorously to his singular lack of success at mining, turning to journalism for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. In 1865, his humorous story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," was published, based on a story he heard at Angels Hotel in Angels Camp California where he had spent some time as a miner. The short story brought international attention, and was even translated into classic Greek. His wit and satire, in prose and in speech, earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.
Though Twain earned a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, he invested in ventures that lost a great deal of money, notably the Paige Compositor, which failed because of its complexity and imprecision. In the wake of these financial setbacks, he filed for protection from his creditors via bankruptcy, and with the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers eventually overcame his financial troubles. Twain chose to pay all his pre-bankruptcy creditors in full, though he had no legal responsibility to do so.
Twain was born shortly after a visit by Halley's Comet, and he predicted that he would "go out with it," too. He died the day following the comet's subsequent return. He was lauded as the "greatest American humorist of his age," and William Faulkner called Twain "the father of American literature."
Excerpted from extensive information at Wikipedia
Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835, to a Tennessee country merchant, John Marshall Clemens (August 11, 1798 – March 24, 1847), and Jane Lampton Clemens (June 18, 1803 – October 27, 1890).
When Twain was four, his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, a port town on the Mississippi River that served as the inspiration for the fictional town of St. Petersburg in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
In March 1847, when Twain was 11, his father died of pneumonia. The next year, he became a printer's apprentice. In 1851, he began working as a typesetter and contributor of articles and humorous sketches for the Hannibal Journal, a newspaper owned by his brother Orion. When he was 18, he left Hannibal and worked as a printer in New York City, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Cincinnati.
At 22, Twain returned to Missouri. On a voyage to New Orleans down the Mississippi, the steamboat pilot, Horace E. Bixby, inspired Twain to pursue a career as a steamboat pilot. A steamboat pilot needed a vast knowledge of the ever-changing river to be able to stop at the hundreds of ports and wood-lots along the river banks. Twain meticulously studied 2,000 miles (3,200 km) of the Mississippi for more than two years before he received his steamboat pilot license in 1859.
While training, Samuel convinced his younger brother Henry to work with him. Henry was killed on June 21, 1858, when the steamboat he was working on, the Pennsylvania, exploded. Twain had foreseen this death in a detailed dream a month earlier, which inspired his interest in parapsychology; he was an early member of the Society for Psychical Research. Twain was guilt-stricken and held himself responsible for the rest of his life. He continued to work on the river and served as a river pilot until the American Civil War broke out in 1861 and traffic along the Mississippi was curtailed.
Twain joined his brother, Orion, who in 1861 had been appointed secretary to James W. Nye, the governor of Nevada Territory, and headed west. Twain and his brother traveled for more than two weeks on a stagecoach across the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, visiting the Mormon community in Salt Lake City along the way. These experiences inspired Roughing It, and provided material for The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.
Twain moved to San Francisco, California in 1864, where he continued working as a journalist. His first great success as a writer came when his humorous tall tale, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", was published in the New York Saturday Press on November 18, 1865.
In 1867, a local newspaper funded a trip to the Mediterranean. During his tour of Europe and the Middle East, he wrote a popular collection of travel letters, which were later compiled as The Innocents Abroad in 1869. It was on this trip that he met his future brother-in-law.
Charles Langdon showed a picture of his sister, Olivia, to Twain; Twain claimed to have fallen in love at first sight. The two met in 1868, were engaged a year later, and married in February 1870 in Elmira, New York.
In 1871, they moved to Hartford, CT, where they lived for 17 years and Clemens wrote some of his most famous books: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), The Prince and the Pauper (1881), Life on the Mississippi (1883), Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889).
Twain made a substantial amount of money through his writing, but he squandered much of it in bad investments, mostly in new inventions. Twain's writings and lectures, combined with the help of a new friend, enabled him to recover financially. Financier Henry Hustleton Rogers helped him file bankruptcy, protect his copyrights, and managed his affairs until his creditors were paid, in part from a world-wide lecture tour in 1984.
Twain predicted in 1909 that he would go out with Halley's Comet, which had last passed by in the year of his birth, and would pass by again in 1910. Twain died of a heart attack on April 21, 1910, in Redding, Connecticut, one day after the comet's closest approach to Earth.
(As they appear on Wikipedia)