Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name, Mark Twain, was America’s
most famous literary icon. Born on 30 November 1835, in the town of Florida,
Missouri, he was the sixth child of John and Jane Clemens. Four years after his birth, in 1839,
the Clemens family moved to the town of Hannibal, a developing port city on the banks of the Mississippi. |
At the age of nine, Twain witnessed the murder of a cattle rancher and when he turned 10, he saw a slave being struck by a piece of iron by a white overseer. Violence was commonplace and such incidents shaped the writer in him.
Twain became the chronicler of hypocrisies and vanities through the colloquial, raw, and vivid voice of the common folk. Satire and irreverence were the weapons that he used to deflate the arrogance of the pretentious. In 1865, one of his remarkable short stories about life in a mining camp, “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,’ was published in newspapers and magazines, earning him national acclaim. A few years later, in 1869, The Innocents Abroad was published, and became a bestseller.
This one-of a kind travel book was born out of his five-month sea cruise in the Mediterranean.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) are among Twain’s seminal works. In 1935, Ernest Hemingway remarked, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.” Mark Twain died on 21 April 1910.