Samual Langhorne Clemens was born in 1835, and died in 1910. Twain's father was John Marshall Clemens, a visionary lawyer and landowner from virginia and his mother was Jane Lampton Clemens. When Clemens was twelve his father passed away. After his fathers death Samual Clemens left school to find work, and boy did he find it. Before his father's death Clemens was apprenticed to his brother Orion, who ran the Missouri Courier, which was a country paper. In 1853 Clemens set out for the East as a journeyman printer. In 1857 he became an apprentice pilot on the Mississippi, and remained on the river, as apprentice and journyman pilot, until the civil war. For about two weeks Clemens served as a second lieutenant in Confederate Army, but he some how managed to get out because of diasabilities. After his short military career Clemens went back to his brother who had been appointed secretary of the territory of Nevada. Realizing that he had no money Clemens tried his hand in prospecting, which he found was not his cup of tea. He then became a reporter, but he was quickly moved up to editor of the Virginia City, Nev., Enterprise, this is when he began using Pseudonym "Mark Twain". In 1864 Twain joined the staff of the Morning Call, which is when he met Bret Harte, the first purely literary figure he had ever known. The next year he wrote The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. After his publishment he was sent around the world by the Sacromento Union. Later in Twains life he faced many inner struggles which probale be viewed as a good thing, but it did inspire some of Twain's best work such as, Tom Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi, and Huckleberry Finn. Twain led a life that few ever get the chance to live, he truly was a glorious writer.
II. Major themes
Mark Twain used a consistent theme throughout many of his stories and novels. He often wrote about his own personal experiences. These experiences ranged from being a steamboat pilot to a reporter to half-hearted confederate soldier. Many of Twain's stories reflected that period of life in America. Many of the topics had to do with major issues such as slavery in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain's many experiences in life gave him first hand insight into what he wrote about, making many of his stories very realistic, it almost seems like you are living in the characters shoes.
One of Twain's most brilliant pieces was A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. This story is about one Hank Morgan who got cracked on the head by a crowbar in 19th century Connecticut who awakes to find himself in the court of none other than King Arthur. Sir Lancelot, a knight of the round table, finds Hank and takes him as his prisoner back to King Arthur. Hank is to be executed, but uses his knowledge of the future to help him. He knows an eclipse is coming, so he says he can predict the future and that he is a sorcerer. When he correctly predicts the coming of the eclipse everyone, including Arthur, believes in his "powers." Hank realizes that society back in Arthur's time is very much like his 19th century life. It was a wondrous tale of fear, injustice, ignorance and melodrama.
Another Twain tale is the story of Pudd'nhead Wilson. Mr. David Wilson once said that if he owned half of a yelping dog he would shoot his half. This comment sparked others to believe him to be idiotic and people said that his head must be filled with Pudding, so they called him Pudd'nhead Wilson. In actuality, he was a very intelligent man. He used his intelligence to derive a system of filing the towns peoples fingerprints. He was like by most and was basically a fair and honest man. A young slave woman, Roxy, fearing for her infant slaves life, exchanges her light skinned child with her masters. She feared he would be sold down the river by York Driscoll, her master, when the child was of age. So she made the exchange and raised Driscoll's child as her own, allowing her child to be raised in a good environment with no chance of being sold. When York Driscoll comes up dead, all evidence points to his slave which is presumed to be Roxy's son, but is actually her real son. Pudd'nhead Wilson figures out through his records of his fingerprint collection and the fingerprints on the murder weapon that the babies were switched at seven months. He also discovers that it was Roxy who made the switch.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was a story of a fun loving boy that was always into mischieve. Tom witnessed a murder, that was blamed on the town drunk. He was forced to make a tough discision, to stay quit and protect himself, or to do the right thing and tell what he had say. Tom did the right thing and saved the bum.
IV. Literary Criticism
I find Twain's writing to be magnificent. I feel his approach to writing is on a level that can be comprehended by all. His works are insightful and very descriptive. His experiences give him the ability to have prior knowledge of the topic which provides for a very vivid and imaginistic scene in all of his stories. There is only one thing about Twain's writing that can be considered abnormal or unprofessional. That is the excessive use of slang in his stories, even though it fits with the story, it is just about his only flaw in writing. Twain's writing will always be considered brilliant, in my mind and many others.
Source: Essay UK - http://www.essay.uk.com/coursework/samuel-langhorne-clemens.php