Mark Twain

Nov 14, 2017
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Mark Twain once defined a classic as “a book that people praise but don’t read.” But he was wrong where his own works were concerned. Although undeniably classics, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are read by generation after generation of delighted readers.

Twain’s books about boyhood on the Mississippi River were written in part from his own experience. Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, he grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, on the banks of the Mississippi, and later worked as a riverboat pilot. He chose “Mark Twain” as his pen name because that was the phrase rivermen yelled out to indicate that the river was two fathoms deep—deep enough for riverboats.

Before he took the pen name of Mark Twain, Samuel Clemens used such other names as Sergeant Fathom, Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass, and W. Epaminandos Adrastus Blab.

After working as a miner and a journalist in the West, Twain turned full-time to writing and lecturing. No one else wrote with such a sharp ear for American speech or with such wonderful humor. His many books—including A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s CourtPudd’nhead Wilson, and Roughing It—added to his fame and wealth. He later lost his money in bad business ventures, but managed to repay his debts. His reputation as a uniquely American genius has grown brighter with time

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