Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who is widely known by his pen name, Mark Twain, was born on the 30th of November in 1835, in Florida, Missouri. He was a brilliant son of John Marshall Clemens, an attorney, and judge, and his mother, Jane, was from Kentucky. Life remained friendly to this celebrated author for the first few years. He enjoyed the love and support of his family. In 1847, the tragedy struck when his father died of pneumonia leaving the family in the deep financial woes. Mark had to quit schooling to take up odd jobs to support his family.
Education and Early Professions
Mark Twain received very less formal education. He had to quit schooling when his father died when he was just twelve. His father’s death dragged the family into years of economic hardships. To meet the daily expenses, he started working as a typesetter in 1851 and contributed various humorous sketches and articles to a journal. At eighteen, he worked as a printer in New York. Despite hardships, his love for literature and art never faded. Besides working, he educated himself at private libraries and gathered wider information better than a formal school going young man of his age. With minimal formal schooling, Mark Twain succeeds in creating literary marvels that the masters envy to this day.
Mark Twain became one of the most famous writers in America at the age of thirty-four, yet he was insecure about his social and financial status. All he needed to have a secure social life and to overcome his sense of inferiority he married Olivia Langdon, the daughter of a wealthy coal merchant. The couple had great respect and love for each other. Enjoying the bliss and bounties of married life, the couple got settled in Buffalo and had four children.
Some Important Facts of His Life
- He started wearing white suits after the death of his beloved wife, Olivia, in 1904.
- His Book, Huckleberry Finn, has been translated into more than 75 languages with more than 6,500 editions.
- He not only published several books and short stories during his lifetime but also lectured at dozens of locations across the countries.
- He died of a heart attack at the age of seventy-four on the 2nd of April in 1910.
Mark Twain pursued various careers before becoming a writer. He began his literary career by writing short stories, sketches, and letters to magazines and newspapers. Some of his earlier sketches include “The Dandy Frightening the Squatter” and “W. Epaminondas Adrastus Perkins.” Later, his experiences as a soldier and his trips to various countries set the background for most of his writings like he narrated his diverse range of experiences in The Innocents Abroad. That is why most of his works seem based on his personal experiences. Some of his notable works include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Mysterious Stranger, and The Prince and the Pauper.
Mark Twain chose to pen down his emotions and thought using a unique style. Instead of writing in straightforward and plain words, he honed a distinctive narrative style, it offers a perfect blend of fun, satire, seriousness. It also shows his eagerness to deflate the pretentious. In fact, he speaks to and for the common people of America and delivers the manners and speech that resonates with formality and style. Regarding literary devices, he often turns toward imagery, similes, metaphors, internal dialogues, and sound devices. The most significant themes in his works include racism and slavery, quest for freedom, moral and intellectual education, and guilt.
Some Important Works of Mark Twain
- Best Works: He was an outstanding writer. Some of his best works include The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, The Prince and the Pauper, Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
- Short Stories: Some of his famous short stories include “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”, “General Washington’s Negro Body-Servant”, “A True Story, Repeated Word for Word As I Heard It” and “The Story Of The Good Little Boy.”
Mark Twain’s Impact on Future Literature
Mark Twain, with his unique abilities, left a worldwide legacy. Even after a hundred years of his demise, he wins our prestige and admiration. The uniqueness of his ideas lies in the fact that he still forces critics to applaud his sentences and expressions. Even Ernest Hemingway paid him tributes by stating in his Green Hills of Africa that all modern American literature is derived from one single book of Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn. The expression of his ideas has never let any other writer excel him, specifically, in the realm of novel writing.
- After a few months’ acquaintance with European “coffee,” one’s mind weakens, and his faith with it, and he begins to wonder if the rich beverage of home, with its clotted layer of yellow cream on top of it, is not a mere dream after all, and a thing which never existed. (A Tramp Abroad)
- The common eye sees only the outside of things, and judges by that, but the seeing eye pierces through and reads the heart and the soul, finding there capacities which the outside didn’t indicate or promise, and which the other kind couldn’t detect. (Joan of Arc)
- To string incongruities and absurdities together in a wandering and sometimes purposeless way, and seem innocently unaware that they are absurdities, is the basis of the American art, if my position is correct. (“How to Tell a Story”)
- I have been studying the traits and dispositions of the “lower animals” (so called) and contrasting them with the traits and dispositions of man. I find the result humiliating to me. (Letters from the Earth)