Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Clemens, Samuel Langhorne
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Clemens, Samuel Langhorne
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|Edition of 1900. See also Mark Twain on Wikipedia, and our Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography disclaimer.|
CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne, author (better known under his pen-name, Mark Twain), b. in Florida, Monroe co., Mo., 30 Nov., 1835. He was educated only in the village school at Hannibal, Mo., was apprenticed to a printer at the age of thirteen, and worked at his trade in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and New York. In 1851 he became a pilot on Mississippi river steamboats, and in 1861 went to Nevada as private secretary to his brother, who had been appointed secretary of the territory. Afterward he undertook mining in Nevada, and became in 1862 city editor of the Virginia City “Enterprise.” In reporting legislative proceedings from Carson he signed his letters “Mark Twain,” a name suggested by the technical phraseology of Mississippi navigation, where, in sounding a depth of two fathoms, the leadsman calls out to “mark twain!” In 1865 he went to San Francisco, and was for five months a reporter on the “Morning Call,” then tried gold-mining in the placers of Calaveras county, and, having no success, returned to San Francisco and resumed newspaper work. He spent six months in the Hawaiian islands in 1866. After his return he delivered humorous lectures in California and Nevada, and then returned to the east and published “The Jumping Frog, and other Sketches” (New York, 1867). The same year he went with a party of tourists to the Mediterranean, Egypt, and Palestine, and on his return published an amusing journal of the excursion, entitled “The Innocents Abroad” (Hartford, 1869), of which 125,000 copies were sold in three years. He next edited the Buffalo, N. Y., “Express.” After his marriage he settled in Hartford, Conn. He delivered witty lectures in various cities, contributed sketches to the “Galaxy” and other magazines, and in 1872 went to England on a lecturing trip. While he was there, a London publisher issued an unauthorized collection of his writings in four volumes, in which were included papers attributed to him that he never wrote. The same year appeared in Hartford, Conn., “Roughing It,” containing sketches of Nevada, Utah, California, and the Sandwich islands; and in 1873, in conjunction with Charles Dudley Warner, a story entitled “The Gilded Age,” which was dramatized and produced in New York in 1874. This comedy, with John T. Raymond in the leading part, Col. Mulberry Sellers, had an extraordinary success. Mr. Clemens subsequently published “Sketches, Old and New”; “Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” a story of boy-life in Missouri (1876); “Punch, Brothers, Punch” (1878); “A Tramp Abroad” (Hartford, 1880); “The Stolen White Elephant” (Boston, 1882); “The Prince and the Pauper” (1882); and “Life on the Mississippi” (1883). In 1884 he established in New York the publishing-house of C. L. Webster & Co., which issued in 1885 a new story entitled “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” a sequel to “Tom Sawyer,” and brought out in that and the following year Gen. U. S. Grant's “Memoirs,” the share in the profits accruing to Mrs. Grant from which publication, under a contract signed with Gen. Grant before his death, amounted, in October, 1886, to $350,000, which was paid to her in two checks, of $200,000 and $150,000. Mark Twain's works have been republished in England, and translations of the principal ones in Germany.