Mark Twain

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Christened as Samuel Langhorne Clemens, Mark Twain was born on November 30, 1835 in the small river town of Florida, Missouri, just 200 miles from Indian Territory. The sixth child of John Marshall Clemens and Jane Lampton, Twain lived in Florida, Missouri until the age of four, at which time his family relocated to Hannibal in hopes of improving their living situation. By lineage, Twain was a Southerner, as both his parents' families hailed from Virginia. The slaveholding community of Hannibal, a river town with a population of 2000, provided a mix of rugged frontier life and the Southern tradition, a lifestyle that influenced Twain's later writings, including theAdventures of Tom Sawyer. Few black slaves actually resided in Hannibal, and the small farms on the delta were no comparison to the typical Southern plantation. In Hannibal, blacks were mostly held as household servants rather than field workers, but were still under the obligations of slavery. In his youth, Twain was a mischievous boy, the prototype of his character, Tom Sawyer. Though he was plagued by poor health in his early years, by age nine he had already learned to smoke, led a small band of pranksters, and had developed an aversion to school. Twain's formal schooling ended after age 12, because his father passed away in March of that year. He became an apprentice in a printer's shop and then worked under his brother, Orion, at the Hannibal Journal, where he quickly became saturated in the newspaper trade. Rising to the role of sub-editor, Twain indulged in the frontier humor that flourished in journalism at the time: tall tales, satirical pranks, and jokes. However, over the next few years, Twain found himself unable to save any wages and grew restless. He decided to leave Hannibal in June of 1853 and accepted a position in St. Louis. Soon afterwards, rather than settling in St. Louis, Twain proceeded to travel back and forth between New York, Philadelphia, Washington,...
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