Some of the best authors are those who use experiences to write their stories. Mark Twain is one of those authors. He traveled to the different regions of the world and used those travels to grow as a person. Mark Twain lived an adventurous life, defending his faith, and using his humor to make his writings unique from others. His love for adventure, God, and his unique sense of humor makes Mark Twain a great author.
Like most writers, Mark Twain came from humble beginnings. He grew up in Florida, Missouri under his birth name, Samuel Clemens (Messent 1). Lived a simple life with six other siblings, at the time was an average number of children. According to PBS, he did live an amazing early life, graduating from Oxford and earned his honorary Doctorate of Letters (PBS). As time continued, he got his first job as an apprentice printer to Joseph Ament in Missouri (Messent 2). An unlikely job for a person who became a famous writer. ‘Twain’s own travels abroad started as a newspaper correspondent in the Sandwich Islands in 1866’ (Messent 39). According to America’s Library, He loved to travel to different parts of the United States. He even ventured out towards the Wild West, where he visited mining areas and defended citizens of injustice (AL 3). PBS informs, he did not partake in writing his books, but he became a reporter. (PBS). On top of all these, he forcefully left Nevada on account of braking dueling laws. Seems like an action Aaron Burr or Alexander Hamilton would commit. America’s Library informs that eventually he ended up in the Mississippi River and began work on steamboats (AL 2). Some of his works came from his adventures in Mississippi and his travels on the river. According to PBS, at some point, he had traveled up and down the river so many times he even memorized the trail of the Mississippi River (PBS). Along with his travels, he also created his pen name, Mark Twain, and began his works under that alias. America’s Library suggests, he got the name from what they yell on the steamboats (AL 2). They use it to communicate the depth of the water they are on. During his time as a steamboat worker, his brother dies in a steamboat accident. Eventually, he settled down in his hometown.
After his wild adventures, Twain’s life became more meaningful. At the age of twenty-seven Twain began to write about his travels under the alias of Mark Twain, like most writers he didn’t use his real name. According to America’s library, he started writing because of the Civil War, since it stopped production crossing of the Mississippi (AL 2). Even having to serve in the Civil War as it happened. Luckily, he left for home, during his travels home, he became a Christian. Leaving his work up to more criticism than necessary (Bush 2). Twain preached under the light of a devoted Christian, even so, many did not believe in his faith. ‘Critics rejected Twain’s confession and rumored that he needed to act the part of a humble Christian’ (Bush 2). That did not stop him from professing his faith. When he did return home, he didn’t stay to greet his family. He began to preach a sermon to the people there about Jesus and how he had become a Christian (Bush 6). Hence, where they, the critics, got the idea to say he just acted the part of a Christian. On the bright side, he met the love of his life during that time.
During, his travels, around the United States, Twain met a young woman and fell in love with her. Her name, Olivia Langdon and Twain wanted to court her (Bush 2). He devoted many hours to Olivia, and he would not see any other woman. Sadly, Olivia’s parents had other plans. ‘The Longdon’s were very put off by Twain’s appearance and manners’ (Bush 2). To them, he gave the impression of a man who could not provide for their daughter. They did witness Twain’s commitment to Olivia and eventually allowed them to marry. He also met his hero in Oliva’s hometown.
When Twain went to go stay with his in-laws, he also met and became friends with John Lewis, an African America who farmed for the Longdon family (Bush 4). Lewis had a part in the forthcoming of Twain’s Christianity (Bush 4). This became an important moment for Twain because he did not see African American’s in the same light as the rest of the world at the time. During, Twain’s stay with his family, he witnessed Lewis save his sister-in-law, Ida Longdon, from running off a cliff with a horse (Bush 4). To stop a horse as it continued running towards a cliff left a heroic impression in the eyes of everyone. Including the eyes of Mark Twain himself. After that day Twain and Lewis became friends, and later Lewis became a folk hero to Twain. He met John Lewis after he wrote Tom Sawyer, one of his more well-renowned stories. ‘John Lewis continued to be recognized as a hero in Twain’s eyes’ (Bush 4). Twain thought of Lewis as an addition to his growing family.
Twain became a big family man and loved being with his family. A couple of years after his marriage, his first child came into the world. Longdon Clemens lived as Mark and Oliva’s first child and only son. Sadly, he died at the age of two to diphtheria and Twain blamed himself for his son’s death (Messent). That same year Oliva and Mark’s first daughter Olivia Susan Clemens, better known as Susy arrived. Then, arrived the next daughter Clara then, their youngest child, Jean (Messent). Nevertheless, while his children were growing up that did not stop him from traveling. When he did have time for his children, he would always play instruments with them or tell them of his adventures. Problems always seemed to follow, Twain through is life. PBS informs that after some odd years after, the youngest, Jean, came into the world, and Susy grew ill (PBS). Everything at home seemed as well as it could be. PBS states, after his children were born he went on a world tour in 1895 (PBS). In retrospect, at the time it seemed like a good idea. According to PBS, regrettably, Twain started traveling the world when his daughter died (PBS). Susy dies five months after her twenty-fourth birthday making her the second death to Twain’s children. Later, followed his wife after years of health problems. PBS informs that following his wife’s death, his daughter Jean grows ill and dies (PBS). During, Twain’s life he witnessed or lived to hear about, the death of his brother, wife, and three children before he dies six years after his wife’s death. According to PBS Twain ‘dies at Stormfield, buried in Elmira, and Halley’s comet visible from earth’ (PBS). His life started spectacularly, and he ends it in spectacularly. According to PBS, after his children were born, he went on a world tour in 1895 (PBS). He traveled all around Europe before his death. He gained most of his ideas for his stories through these travels. His stories and writing still live up to the legacy they had years ago.
He loved to write, and he continued to write for years. America’s Library informs that he started his first story when he turned twenty-seven working on the Mississippi River (AL 2). Twain started writing later in his life compared to another writer. Normally writers begin writing at the age of twenty, that did not stop him from pursuing his dream. One of his first books, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, became one of many of Twain’s works. This being his first successful story, and what made him know through America. Critics were not too thrilled about Twain’s stories because of his confession of faith (Bush 2). This happened during the time when church and state separated completely, so reviewers were narrow-minded about Christian writers, one of his book that accumulated the most criticism during that time Huckleberry Finn, arguably Twain’s most world-renowned book. ‘When Huckleberry Finn first came out, reviewers did not see it as a novel about race but rather focused on its representation of juvenile ‘delinquency’ (Messent 12). He wrote more than just young stories that work with his era.
On top of writing stories, he wrote folk songs in his life. One of his better-known songs tells the story of Sandy, a slave in Missouri. Sandy, a young slave, served Twain’s family at the time (Bush 4). He became friends with the young slave, and he became a part of Twain’s family, metaphorically. His other works involved his adventures around the world or of imaginary characters that lived in such places (Messent 39). These stories became great additions to his long list of works. The works and their realism sparked his recognition around the world. Of course, his beliefs began to make their way into his writings. He had one story in particular called Eve’s Diary. This story involved the journey of Adam and Eve. Twain wrote this short story almost like diary entries (Bush 6). This just left him up for more criticism than necessary. His works also did not go unnoticed by the public eye.
The reviews were not what Twain struggled with the most. He became his worst enemy. Twain never trusted his comic sense of writing (Camfield 92). He never found satisfaction with what he wrote, always in a constant struggle of self-doubt. He always believed his works should have a single answer, not different answers that could manifest from the mind (Camfield 92). Ironically, these characteristics in his writings make him stand out from others. Even with that, he hated the paradoxes hidden in his stories (Camfield 92). Again, the aspects of his writings that Twain hated are what attracts readers to his works. He, of course, gained recognition for his works.
After Mark Twain’s death, Twain’s honoring and awareness of his works continue today. Twain, unlike other painters and writers, became famous during his life, not after. Extraordinary opportunities became frequent during his life. According to PBS, he was a guest of President Theodore Roosevelt at the White House (PBS). Many writers are unable to have opportunities like such in their lifetime. One of his biggest achievements happened after he died. His book Huckleberry Finn became a movie. Sadly, he did not take part in witnessing the movie or its creation process. Still, to this day his works are world-renowned for use in the educational system. Twain would’ve been thrilled to hear about the outcomes his stories have on others.
His life rich with adventure, his love for God, and his interesting sense of humor remains key factors that made Mark Twain an amazing person. He lived an interesting life compared to the one we assume from his writing. His writings continue to inspire others, even after death.