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Pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens 1835-1910 American writer and humorist whose best work is characterized by broad often irreverent humor or biting social satire Twains writing is also known for realism of place and language memorable characters and hatred of hypocrisy and oppression Born in Florida Missouri Clemens moved with his family to Hannibal Missouri a port on the Mississippi River when he was four years old In 1851 he began setting type for and contributing sketches to his brother Orions Hannibal Journal Later Clemens was a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River until the American Civil War 1861-1865 In 1862 he became a reporter on the Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City Nevada and in 1863 he began signing his articles with the pseudonym Mark Twain a Mississippi River phrase meaning two fathoms deep In 1865 Twain published The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and within months the author and the story had become national sensations Much of Twains best work was written in the 1870s and 1880s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer 1876 celebrates boyhood in a town on the Mississippi River The Prince and the Pauper 1882 a childrens book focuses on switched identities in Tudor England and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court 1889 satirizes oppression in feudal England see Feudalism One of Twains most significant works of the 1890s and 1900s is Puddnhead Wilson 1894 a novel set in the South before the Civil War that criticizes racism by focusing on mistaken racial identities The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 1884 the sequel to Tom Sawyer is considered Twains masterpiece The book is the story of the title character known as Huck a boy who flees his father by rafting down the Mississippi River with a runaway slave Jim Huckleberry Finn is especially noted for its authentic language Twains skill in capturing the rhythms of life along the Mississippi River before the Civil War helps make the
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