Great American Authors – Mark Twain

by jeanineoloughlin

July is the month we celebrate the United States’ Independence Day. So, this month I will be posting about some of America’s greatest authors.


Mark Twain 11/30/1835 – 4/21/1910

Born in Florida Missouri as Samuel Langhorne Clemens the author better known as Mark Twain grew up in the small town of Hannibal Missouri. The town would later provide the setting for his most famous novels; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Starting as an apprentice with a printer Twain went onto become a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before heading West with his elder brother for mining prospects.

After failing at his mining endeavors Mark Twain started working as a journalist and publishing short stories in the paper. Twain’s wit and satire was praised by critics and brought him international attention. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published in 1886 and inspired by Twain’s own childhood experiences. The sequel to the novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn published in 1884 would later be considered by some the first ‘Great American Novel’ with it’s heavy satire on what Twain felt were antiquated attitudes, particularly racism.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been a controversial book due to its language since it’s publication, though the particular areas of complaint have greatly shifted. A common book on many school reading lists some have attempted to ban the book or remove it from school curriculum due to its use of racial slurs and racial stereotypes even despite arguments of its anti-racist message.

Mark Twain also published the famous story of The Prince and The Pauper which now can be seen throughout American stories, but did not win Twain much critical fame. Many believe that Twain’s lack of experience in England, where the story was set, and the story’s social commentary when the two boys switch places. His beliefs and life experiences were strong influences on his work and are great areas of exploration within the narratives of the stories.