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Mark Twain

Life + Background

Shivangi Parmar

on 27 April 2011

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Transcript of Mark Twain

Mark Twain. The American Humorist Early Travels. Marriage and Children. Twain, with his brother Orion, headed west, visited the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, and the Mormon Community in Salt Lake City. Twain became a miner in the silver-mining town of Virginia City, Nevada. He failed. Instead, he worked for a local newspaper, the Territorial Enterprise and used his first penname. Twain moved to San Francisco, California in 1864, still as a journalist. He met writers such as Bret Harte, Artemus Ward, and Dan DeQuille. His first 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. It brought him national attention. In 1867, a local newspaper funded for Twain's trip to the Mediterranean. On this trip he met Charles Langdon, his future brother-in-law. Twain married Olivia Langdon in 1870 in Elmira, New York. Through her, Twain met abolitionists and social activists, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, and William Dean Howells. In Elmira at Quarry Farm (gift from his sister-in-law), Twain did most of his writing, such as:
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876),
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889) While living in Elmira, 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. Twain made a second tour of Europe, described in the 1880 book "A Tramp Abroad". His tour included a stay in Heidelberg from May 6 until July 23, 1878, and a visit to London. Debts and
Financial Troubles. Although Twain made a substantial amount of money through his writing, he lost a great deal through investements. Twain invested the modern equivalent of $7,590,000 on the Paige typesetting machine, which was prone to breakdowns and soon became obsolete.
Twain also lost money through his publishing house, which enjoyed initial success selling the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, but went broke soon after losing money on a biography of Pope Leo XIII; fewer than two hundred copies were sold. In 1894, Twain embarked on an around-the-world lecture tour to pay off his creditors in full, although he was under no legal obligation to do so. He returned to the U.S. in 1900, having earned enough to pay off all his debts. Early Life. November 12, 1835: Born in Florida, Missouri to Jane and John Marshall Clemens. Born two weeks after the closest approach to Earth of Halley’s Comet. Sixth of Seven Children; only 3 siblings (Orion, Henry, and Pamela) survived childhood. At 12, Twain became a printer's apprentice. He later worked as a typesetter and contributor of articles/humorous sketches for the Hannibal Journal (a newspaper owned by Orion). At 18, he worked as a printer in NYC, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Cincinatti. Twain joined the Union and educated himself in public libraries. On a voyage to New Orleans down the Mississippi, Horace E. Bixby inspired Twain to become a steamboat pilot. The position of steamboat pilot was rewarding and prestigious; the salary was roughly equivalent to $73,089 a year today. At the age of four, Twain's family moved to Hannibal, Missouri. Hannibal inspired the location for Twain's later works: In Hannibal, Twain became familiar with the institution of slavery. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Huckleberry Finn. While training, Clemens convinced his brother henry to work with him. Henry died on June 21, 1858 when the steamboat he was working on exploded. Twain was guilt-stricken and held himself responsible for the rest of his life. In a sketch he wrote later in his life, "The Private History of a Campaign That Failed," Twain claimed that and his friends had been Confederate volunteers for two weeks before disbanding their company. He continued to work on the river and was a river pilot until the American Civil War broke out in 1861 and traffic along the Mississippi was curtailed. Over a period of 13 years (1896-1909), the successive deaths of Twain's daughters - Susy, Olivia, and Jean as well as the death of a close friend, Henry Rogers, put him in deep depression. Twain volunteered autographed portraits to Ina Coolbrith due to her loss in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. In 1907, Oxford University awarded Twain an honorary doctorate in letters. Later Life and Death. In 1909, 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.
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