Chapter-by-Chapter Summary & Analysis 25
Possible Essay Topics & Review Questions 57
Mark Twain (pen name/pseudonym of Samuel Longhorn Clemens), American writer, humorist and lecturer was considered the most popular celebrity of his era at the pinnacle of his career. Samuel Clemens was born the third of four children to John and Jane Clemens on November 30, 1825, in Florida, Missouri. The family moved to Hannibal, Missouri soon thereafter, a town and its inhabitants that would make their way into ClemensÆ later fiction like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
When he was twelve, TwainÆs father died leaving behind a number of significant debts. Orion, the ClemensÆ oldest son, began publishing a newspaper with Samuel assisting in the project as a journeyman printer and, on occasion, as writer. Clemens traveled widely, working in St. Louis and New York City employed as a printer. The pull of the Mississippi eventually witnessed ClemensÆ career as a pilot on a steamboat, a job he maintained he would have held until the end of his life if the Civil War and the rise of the railroad had not made commercial steamboat traffic obsolete by the 1860s. Clemens chronicles many of his adventures in this career in Life on the Mississippi.
Clemens decided to rough it out West with his brother Orion, who had been appointed secretary to the territorial governor of Nevada. Clemens hoped to discover gold in the mines of Virginia City, Nevada, but this ambition never materialized and he resumed a career of writing for newspapers, including the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise where he gave birth to his famous pen name, Mark Twain. In 1865, Twain had befriended humorist Artemus Ward during one of his lecture tours. Twain wrote a humorous short story for a book Ward was publishing, but that story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, was published in the Saturday Press and established TwainÆs reputa...