Mark Twain is the famous pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who was born on November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri. He is one of the most beloved figures in the history of American literature, and was a journalist, novelist, humorist, literary critic, essayist, short story writer, and poet.
While Samuel Clemens declared during his lifetime that he had a disdain for poetry, he was referring to his own perceived lack of skill at writing poems rather than the genre itself. He wrote over 120 poems, the majority of them humorous, some poignant and somber. "He Done His Level Best", "My Dog Burns", and "Love Came at Dawn" are a few of the pieces of poetry created by Clemens. Some of his poems were collected into a book by Arthur L. Scott entitled On the Poetry of Mark Twain with Selections from His Verse, which was published in 1966.
Samuel Clemens moved to a Missouri town named Hannibal when he was four. His childhood there provided the setting and themes for his two most well-known novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Clemens had to leave school at the age of 12 after his father died. He went on to obtain a job as an apprentice printer at the Hannibal Courier to support his family, and at 15 he became a printer, writer, and editor at the Hannibal Western Union, which was owned by his older brother Orion. In 1857, Samuel Clemens set off to become a licensed steamboat pilot, a dream he fulfilled in 1859. He claimed that this career is what inspired his pen name, "Mark Twain".
Clemens is best known for his novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but before penning these American classics, Samuel Clemens worked as a journalist for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. When his story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" was published in 1865, it gained international attention and went on to become so popular that it was translated into Greek. After this success, he started traveling as a journalist for the Sacramento Union and other newspapers, and he wrote many acclaimed travel stories and letters, which were the basis for his published collection The Innocents Abroad. One of his most well-known travels was to the Sandwich Islands -- now known in the present-day as Hawaii -- which resulted in Clemens embarking on a run of successful lecture tours.
Samuel Clemens befriended many notable people in his life, including Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. In addition to being a writer, Clemens developed many inventions -- including a replacement for suspenders, a history trivia game, a self-sticking scrapbook, and the Paige typesetting machine -- and was deeply interested in science and technology. His novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court set the example for the alternate history science-fiction genre that has been followed ever since.
Samuel Clemens died at the age of 74 on April 21, 1910 in Redding, Connecticut. During his lifetime, he gained the friendship of some of the world's most esteemed royalty, political leaders, artists, and famed businessmen, and was also admired by the American public. Clemens was called the "Father of American Literature" by author William Faulkner, and was very well known and celebrate during his time. In the century since his death, Mark Twain's legacy has carried on and he is fondly remembered as one of America's most treasured authors.