Mark Twain or Sammul Clemens American writer, journalist, humorist, is perhaps best known for his humor, but he is was in fact a serious writer and among the most important in the 19th century. His most famous novels are of course The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Hickleberry Finn and other books, along with essays, critical work, and more. Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri, of a Virginian family. He was brought up in Hannibal, Missouri. The books are based on the authors observations growing up as a boy on the Mississippi Riverin the 1830s and 40s. This is important for HBC as we have so little information on that period. Many believe that Huck's and Jim's saga is the greatest American novel. Tragically some schools ban it because of the use of the "n" word. Twain of course has to be the most influential voice for racial tolerance in the 19th century. Influential of course because many read the books, especially Huckleberry Finn, wihout realizing what Twain was doing. (If they had many would not have read the books or allowed their wives and children to read them.)
Samuel's parents were John Marshall Clemens and Jane Lampton. They came from Virginia and gradually moved west in four stages.
Sam was the sixth child.
The Clemens family moved to nearby Hannibal, Missouri in 1938. Samuel spent his boyhood and teen years in Hannibal. It was a small river town on the Mississppi. In the years before interstate highways and railroads, the Mississippi was becoming the most imp[ortant commercial arterry in the United States. (The British recognized this even earlier which is one reason they attacked New Orleans in 1814. Clemens developed an especially passionate tie to the River. Young Sam saw Steamboats landing at the town three times a day, often the most important event. of the day. These great giant floaing engines captured Sam's imagination and, like many other boys, he dreamed of becoming a steamboat captain.
Hannibal was not in the deep south, but Missouri was a slave state. As Hannibal was a commercial port, Sam as a boy saw commerce moving both up and down the Mississippi River. Par of that commerce was human beings--slaves. His father sold a slave away from the family, to buyers "down river". Like Abraham Lincoln and other contempraries, he was deeply moved by what he saw and it had a great impact on some of his most famous works.
Sammuel was born in Florida, Missouri, of a Virginian family. He was brought up in Hannibal, Missouri. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are based on the authors observations growing up as a boy on the Mississippi Riverin the 1830s and 40s. Life on the Mississippi is another very important book describing his early years and the community in which he lived. This is important for HBC because we have so little information on that period.
We at this time have little information on how Sammuel was dressed as a boy. We speculate that the clothes worn by Tom in the original edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer are a good appropxiation. HBC at this time has only one photographis image of the younf Sammuel Clemens. He is dressed a bit differently than how we often imagine Tom Sawyer. Notice the cap, collared shirt and cravat. Also notice that his hair almost covers his ears.
Clemens' first job, however, was not on the River, He served as a printer's apprentice to Joseph Ament, who published the Missouri Courier. Clemens began working for Ament in 1848 when he was 13 years old, a year after his fathers death. Clemen's in 1851, began working for his brother Orion who published the Hannibal Journal. Clemens set type for and contributing sketches. During the next 2 years, Clemens worked at the Journal. He served as editor when Orion was not there. Clemens got a few of his sketches published in the Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post in 1852, a major accomplishment. He left Hannibal in 1853,
Mark Twain was the pseudonym for Samuel Longhorn Clemens. The name comes from his days on riverboats. Landsmen would drop a knotted rope into the water to mark the depth, a constant concern in naviagating the Mississippi which had many shallow shoals which were constantly changing. The boats had shallow drafts as they were not designed for use at sea, but still needed 12 feet of water for saftey. The knoys were put at intervals of 3 feet. A quarter train was 3 feet and a half train 6 feet. The full 12 feet was mark twain. That meant safe, navigable water and it was what all riverboat men wated to hear.
American writer, journalist, humorist, is perhaps best known for his humor, but he is was in fact a serious writer and among the most important in the 19th century.
His most famous novels are of course The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Hickleberry Finn and other books, along with essays, critical work, and more. Note that Tom Sawyer and the more reflective Huckleberry Finn nearly 10 years later.
Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer may be the most popular book ever written about the American boy. Mark Twain published it in 18??. It does not have the darker aspects or the moral conumdrums posed in Huckleberry Finn. Tom is often pictured in dressier clothes than his erstwhile companion. Thus images of Tom give an indication of how boys may have dressed up in the dys before the Civil War(1851-65). Tom was also pictured in school and play clothes.
Mark Twain's classic tale is set around the decision of a mistreated orphan and British prince Edward Tudor to trade places. Afterwards they are mistaken for each other and throw the kingdom into turmoil. Both boys learn valuable lessons from each other's lives. The pauper Tom, and the King trade clothes. Costuming varies with each production. The pauper Tom generally appears in rags with bare legs. In court clothes the boys wear tights, including white tights that the newly corinated King wears at the end of the movie. The costming seems reasonably accurate for time period, but HBC does not have a lot of information on these early periods.
Mark Twain's saga of the pre-Civil War American boyhood is one of the classic's of American literature. It is as close as you can get to the American epic. Despite its current controversiality, it is arguably the most powerful anti-slavery novel ever written. The book was a sequal to Twain's imensely popular Tom Sawyer and was published in 18??). It was, however, a very different book. Twain arrgues powefully for the esential humanity of Black Americans. Strangely the book is often a target of Black groups demanding it be removed from school libaries and required reading lists. The book is set in the 1840s and uses realistic dialog of the day. Huckleberry's characteridtiv bare feet and rough clothes are a realistic look at how the average boy in pre-Civil War America dressed. Many believe that Huck's and Jim's saga is the greatest American novel. Tragically some schools ban it because of the use of the "n" word. Twain of course has to be the most influential voice for racial tolerance in the 19th century. Influential of course because many read the books, especially Huckleberry Finn, wihout realizing what Twain was doing. (If they had many would not have read the books or allowed their wives and children to read them.)
The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson is a wonderful story, but is sometimes lost in a list of Twain works. It was written 10-15 years after the stories of Tom and Huck. This book is rather like the Prince and the Pauper story retold in a American terms and contemprary with the ante-Bellum days of Tom and Huck. It is about a white boy switched in the cradel with a light-skinned slave boy, but both growing up together on the same plantation. It is different than the Prince and the Pauper in that one of the boys is evil.
There are many fine biographies of Mark Twain as well as academic assessments of his works. Unfortunately Twain is probably the American author that is less well understood in the public mind. He was probably the most important American author of the 19th century. Most Americans, however, probably regard him as a humerous teller of boys' adventure tales. Worst still, many blacks today are scornful of his books because of the language abd seem unaware that he was arguaably the most important voice for raceful justice in the 19th century. (Frederick Douglas was certainly more impasioned, but Twain was much wider read and probably more effective at reaching white Americans with racist attitudes--which meant most white Anericans.) White Americans today are all to ready to edit Twain's powerful message f racial equality out of Twain's memories. Depictions today stress Tom and Huck's bare feet and fishing poles and Becky's pinafores--but often Jim and references to slavery do not appear at all. A good example of this is the exhibits and special events held in Hannibal, Missouri.