Who Was Mark Twain?


Quick Answer

Samuel L. Clemens, who wrote under the pseudonym Mark Twain, was an American writer and satirist famous for the book "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and its sequel, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." He remains an enduring figure in American literature for his exploration of race and slavery in the South.

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Full Answer

Twain lived from 1835 to 1910. He was born in Missouri and died in Connecticut. In addition to being a writer, he was a riverboat pilot, journalist, lecturer and inventor. He spent his early years in Hannibal, a bustling Missouri town along the Mississippi River, where he was exposed to industry and trade as well as violence and poverty. Hannibal inspired the towns in both of his famous novels.

Twain originally joined the Confederate Army during the Civil War, but his unit disbanded and he drifted West where he was eventually hired by a newspaper. There he wrote under the name Mark Twain, which was steamboat slang for 12 feet of water. He achieved recognition and fame writing stories about mining life, eventually writing a bestseller about his Mediterranean sea cruise.

Twain's influence on American literature cannot be understated; Ernest Hemingway once named him the father of American literature, observing that Twain used the language of ordinary people to create literature.

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