Samuel Clemens | Mark Twain
“’As his literature provides insight into the past, the events of his personal life further demonstrate his role as an eyewitness to history’” (Marktwainhouse.org).
In 1835, “Halley’s Comet”, named after British astronomer Edmond Halley, made its closest approach to earth. A few weeks later, on November 30, Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri to John Marshall Clemens and Jane Lampton Clemens. He was the sixth of seven children.
Only three of Clemens’ siblings survived childhood, and he narrowly survived his. Clemens was born two months premature and was a very unhealthy child. As a toddler, he was sickly and underweight and mostly bedridden until the age of four. He began sleepwalking and developed mood swings as he grew older. After hovering between life and death for a while, Clemens’ health slowly improved and soon he was able to leave the house on his own (Powers 8).
When Clemens was 11 years old, his father died. Soon after, Clemens completed the fifth grade and left school to work as a printer’s apprentice for a local newspaper. His job was arranging the type for each of the newspaper’s stories, so while working Clemens was able to read the whole worlds news (Marktwainhouse.org).
At the age of 18, Clemens worked on several newspapers in Philadelphia and New York writing articles. By 1857, he headed back home and found a career as a Mississippi riverboat pilot. Unfortunately, the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 stopped all traffic along the river, thus ending his career. He was inspired by the times and joined a volunteer Confederate unit known as the “Marion Rangers”, but after just two weeks he quit.
After many failed careers, including a silver prospector, Clemens began writing for the Territorial Enterprise, a Virginia City, Nevada newspaper. It was then when Clemens first used his pen name: Mark Twain. Seeking a change, he headed to San Francisco in 1864 and...