Samuel Clemens based his works on things that occurred throughout his personal life. He gained many interests and talents while on the Mississippi River that contributed to his writings. Samuel Clemens was born on November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri. He was two months premature. At the time of his birth, Haley’s comet was in the sky.
Four years after Clemens was born, his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri. He grew up there on the Mississippi River. The river supported some of the happiest moments in his life. Clemens was the fifth child in the family of John and Jane Clemens. The first seven years of his life, he was under the supervision of his mother and the family physician, Dr. Hugh, because of being sick. At age nine, though, Clemens was known to be grown up. In 1847, his father died. He began to carry our adult responsibilities now at age 12. He began working and running errands to contribute to the family. After his father died, the family began to have bad financial problems.
When Clemens turned seventeen, he was ready to be on his own, He began to write stories and sketches for newspapers. He supported himself for the next two years. He also decided to go east ward from Hannibal to work on printing jobs. (Miller, Dwyer, Wood, 259) He enrolled in school at age four. He was well-behaved and disciplined in school. Learning was a privilege to Clemens. he was interested in knowing facts, information, and figures. He had a strong knowledge of math, language, vocabulary, and correct composition. He learned much about Botany. At age 12, he quit school and became a printer’s apprentice. In 1901, he received his Lit. D. degree from Yale, 1902. his Lit. D. degree from the University of Missouri, and in 1907 his Lit. D. degree from Oxford. In 1857, Clemens started down the Mississippi River. He made important decisions with important consequences in his life. Clemens persuaded Horace Bixby to teach him piloting skills. In 1859, he became a licensed riverboat pilot. During the 1850’s while he piloted steamboats, he adopted the name Mark Twain in Virginia City. Mark Twain was a name meaning two fathoms deep, used on a Mississippi River steamboat. (Discovering Authors) Twain first began to publish under his pen name on February 3, 1863.
During the summer, he was working with the staff of the Virginia City, Nevada, Territorial Enterprise. his career progressed. He removed himself from a humorous image to express the view that all motives are selfish. When he became a steamboat pilot he had to learn to be forward with his offers and not polite like his mother raised him to be. During his nights of piloting he discovered his love for astronomy. In 1861, Twain served briefly in the Missouri, Militia. His piloting years ended when the river was closed down by the war in 1861. He also served in a Confederate volunteer company for two weeks. he decided not to be involved with the war. His brother Orion and he traveled to Carson City, Nevada in 1861. Through the years of 1861-1862, he was a prospector for gold in Nevada. Twain found spiritual uplifting and inspiration through memories on the Mississippi. On the Mississippi, he learned of the different types of human nature that could be found. (Albert Paine, 82) Twain was skeptical about human society. He had a serious view of life, causing him to be viewed as serious and pessimistic. He was known as a humorist. Although there was a lot of tragedy in his life through the poverty and death of his father, loss of a daughter, and bankruptcy.
Twain was a master of irony, urging people to see the things they could change if they tried. He was a very generous person, but seldom liked to show it. He had musical talents that were not known by many people. He could play the piano, guitar, organ, and could sing. Even though Twain was always into trouble and liked adventure, he had good luck at being where interesting things were happening at the right time. He had a skill for quickly observing things. One of Twain’s later works was Life on the Mississippi. It tells of the Mississippi River region and things such as the history, sights, people, and legends of the towns and steamboats. Throughout chapters 4 and 17, he recalled his piloting days very vividly. The Atlantic Monthly originally contained these chapters as “Old Times on the Mississippi.” In 1852, Twain did not want to be a writer. He did not know what he wanted to do in life, but he found writing to be easy. He began to write to support his family and to make a living. He was good at describing details. Twain could interest the reader by telling his own ideas and reactions. His imagination is limited with freedom. His desire for freedom and adventure exists in his works. (Henry Smist, 35) By using things from his past that he remembered, he could interpret reality well. Twain can find a deeper meaning beneath appearances, and show the environment of each character well. he was unsure of the Bible and could not find a firm conception of God. He grew up Presbyterian and his works reflect his doubt on religion. Also he had a belief that life was predetermined and free will is an illusion. (John Gerber, 3) In November of 1865, Twain published his first important sketch, “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog” in the New York Saturday Press.
His first book was The Celebrated Jumping Frog at Calvaras County. In 1867, he traveled to Spain, Italy, France, and Palestine. Stories were published and known as the book, The Innocents Abroad. (1869) Throughout this book, Twain ridiculed the countries he visited, along with the sights of American tourists traveling about. In 1874, his first novel, The Guilded Age was published. It was co-written with Charles Dudley Warner. The title comes from the decades following the Civil War. Twain wrote of his youth in a more pleasant way of life than it was based on. The short story, ” The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg” is an indication of his dark side. In 1876, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published. In this book, the character Aunt Polly was based on his mother. The family had a better financial condition like it was at his Aunt Patsy’s. The story was about a mischievous boy in a Mississippi River town. Tom Sawyer was a backward step. It was addressed to adults, but appealed to young people. (Ronald Gottesman, 1163) Tom Sawyer was a predecessor of Huck Finn. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which was published in 1885, was the sequel to Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain was not Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn, although they were boys that he wished he was. Twain’s childhood was the basis for the story of boys being raised on the frontier in Huckleberry Finn. During his years as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi, he met many people to help characterize his novels.
He seldom used the name of a friend or relative in anything he wrote. Huckleberry Finn was written by Twain in eight years. It is a novel which demonstrates the difference between appearance and reality without creating feelings of disdain about humanity. Throughout Huckleberry Finn, he brings out the power of nature to develop an understanding of values such as common sense, honesty, and courage. During Twain’s life he enjoyed listening to yarn spinners. Wile on the Mississippi, he found it entertaining to listen to fellow pilots or passengers spin yarns. One day a yarn was told by Ben Coon and Twain and a friend listened. Later he told the story to a famous humorist named Artemus Ward. He urged Twain to write the story so that it could be printed. In 1865, “The Celebrated Frog of Calaveras County” was published. It was published and read in newspapers all over the United States. From there after, he used his personal life-experiences and his humorous side to combine the best way of writing he knew. His talent of yarn spinning was very helpful during his writing career. (Miller, 143) In February of 1870, Twain married Olivia Langdon. They were engaged for one year. She changed his writings, sometimes weakening them, and making them more readable. His marriage life was always happy, considering they came from totally different backgrounds. When they were married, Olivia’s parents said that Twain was not a Christian. They were married for 33 years and had four children during that time.
His son died at 18 months in June of 1872. Twain’s favorite daughter, Susy, died at meningitis in 1896. She died peacefully and was laid to rest by her brother. After Susy’s death, the family secluded themselves in London. His other two daughters, Clara and Jean, moved away from Twain. Clara married a pianist and lived in Europe. Jean spent most of her adult life in nursing homes. Jean had the worst relationship with her father out of the Clemens children. The last few months of her life, though, she grew closer to her father while living with him. In December of 1909, she died. (Miller,17) Twain was not known as an easy man to live with. He had a bad temper, but he tried to keep it under control. In 1904 his wife, Olivia, died in Italy. On April 24, 1910 Twain died at Stormfield of angia pectoris at age 74. Haley’s comet was once again in the sky at this time. He was buried in Elmira, New York. After his death, he was known as a hero. Schools, parks, and museums have been named after him. His works have become known as the first and finest literary expression. According to Ernest Hemingway, Twain was the father of all Literature. He is “the poet of a unique phase of American experience.” (Smist, 38)