Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835, to a Tennessee country merchant. Twain’s father was an attorney and a local judge. Twain was the sixth of seven
children. Only three of his siblings survived childhood. Twain was born two weeks after the closest approach to Earth of Halley's Comet. On December 4, 1985, the United States Postal Service issued a stamped envelope for "Mark Twain and Halley's Comet."
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. At that time, Missouri was a slave state, and
young Twain became familiar with the institution of slavery, a theme he would later explore in his writing.
In March 1847, when Twain was 11, his father died of pneumonia.The next year, he became a
printer's apprentice. When he was 16, 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. He joined the union and educated himself in public libraries in the evenings, finding wider sources of information than he would have at a conventional school. 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. it was a richly rewarding occupation with wages set at $250 per month. 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 when he was 24 in 1859.
While training, Samuel convinced his younger brother Henry to work with him. Henry was killed on June 21, 1858, when the steamboat on which he was working, the Pennsylvania, exploded. Twain had foreseen this death in a detailed dream a month earlier, which inspired his interest in parapsychology (pærəsaɪ'kɑlədʒɪ /-'kɒl-] ; he was an early member of the Society for Psychical
|| 'saɪkɪkl] 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.
Missouri was a slave state, considered by many to be part of the South, and was represented in both the Confederate and Federal governments during the Civil War. he and his friends had been Confederate volunteers for two weeks before disbanding their company.
Twain in 1861 ,when he was 26,Twain and his brother ,Orion, 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's journey ended in the
silver-mining town of Virginia City, Nevada, where he became a miner. Twain failed as a miner
and found work at a Virginia City newspaper, the Territorial Enterprise. Here he first used his
famous pen name.
Twain moved to San Francisco, California in 1864, when he was 29 where he continued working
as a journalist. He met other writers, such as Bret Harte, Artemus Ward, and Dan DeQuille. The
young poet Ina Coolbrith may have romanced him.
His first great success as a writer came when his humorous tall tale, "The Celebrated Jumping
Frog of Calaveras County", was published in a New York weekly, The Saturday Press, on November 18, 1865, when he was 30. It was an immediate hit and brought him national attention. A year
later, he traveled to the Sandwich Islands (present-day Hawaii) as a reporter for the Sacramento
Union. His travelogues were popular and became the basis for his first lectures.
In 1867, when he was 32, 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.
Marriage and children
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, he was 33, were engaged a year later, and married in
February 1870 in Elmira, New York. She came from a "wealthy but liberal family", and
through her he met abolitionists, "socialists, principled atheists and activists for women's rights and social equality".
The couple lived in Buffalo, New York from 1869 to 1871. Twain owned a stake in the Buffalo
Express newspaper, and worked as an editor and writer. Their son Langdon died of diphtheria at
In 1871, Twain was 36, they moved his family to Hartford, Connecticut, where starting in
1873, he arranged the building of a home (local admirers saved it from demolition in 1927 and
eventually turned it into a museum focused on him). While living there Olivia gave birth to three daughters: Susy (1872–1896), Clara (1874–1962) and Jean (1880–1909). The couple's
marriage lasted 34 years, until Olivia's death in 1904.
During his seventeen years in Hartford (1874–1891), Twain wrote many of his best-known works.
Twain made a substantial amount of money through his writing, but he squandered much of it in bad investments, mostly in new inventions, particularly the Paige typesetting machine.Twain also lost money through his publishing house.
Twain's writings and lectures, combined with the help of a new friend, Henry Rogers, enabled him to recover financially.
Twain was in demand as a featured speaker, and appeared before many men's clubs, including the White Friars, the Vagabonds, the Authors, the Monday Evening Club of Hartford, and the Beefsteak Club.
Mark Twain in his gown (scarlet with grey sleeves and facings) for his D.Litt. degree, awarded to him by Oxford University.Twain passed through a period of deep depression, which began in
when his daughter Susy died of meningitis. menɪn'dʒaɪtɪs] 1896,when he was 61,
Olivia's death in 1904 and Jean's on December 24, 1909, deepened his gloom. On May 20,
1909, his close friend Henry Rogers died suddenly.
In 1906,when he was 71, Twain began his autobiography in the North American Review. In April, Twain heard that his friend Ina Coolbrith had lost nearly all she owned in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and he volunteered a few autographed portrait photographs to be sold for her benefit.
Twain formed a club in 1906, for girls he viewed as surrogate granddaughters, the Angel Fish and Aquarium Club. The dozen or so members ranged in age from 10 to 16
Oxford University awarded Twain an honorary doctorate in letters (D.Litt.) in 1907. When he was
In 1909, when he was 74, Twain is quoted as saying:
I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's Comet. The
Almighty has said, no doubt: 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.'
His prediction was accurate – Twain died of a heart attack on April 21, 1910, in Redding,
Connecticut, one day after the comet's closest approach to Earth.
Upon hearing of Twain's death, President William Howard Taft said:
"Mark Twain gave pleasure – real intellectual enjoyment – to millions, and his works will continue
to give such pleasure to millions yet to come... His humor was American, but he was nearly as much appreciated by Englishmen and people of other countries as by his own countrymen. He has made an enduring part of American literature."
Mark Twain headstone in Woodlawn Cemetery.Twain's funeral was at the "Old Brick"
Presbyterian Church in New York. He is buried in his wife's family plot at Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, New York. His grave is marked by a 12-foot (i.e., two fathoms, or "mark twain") monument, placed there by his surviving daughter, Clara. There is also a smaller headstone.