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Mark Twain is important to American literature because of his novels and how they portray the American experience Some of his best selling novels were Innocents Abroad Life on the Mississippi Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer In these books Mark Twain recalls his own adventures of steamboating on the Mississippi River Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born on November 30 1835 in a small village of Florida Missouri His parents names were John Marshall Clemens and Jan Lampton Clemens descendants of slaves in Virginia They had been married in Kentucky and move to Tennessee and then Missouri When Sam was four his father who was full of the grandiose ideas of making a fortune moved the family to Hannibal Missouri Here the mighty Mississippi River with its mile side wide was the home of little Samuel Clemens There on the West Bank of the river Sam spent his boyhood with moving steamboats and making stops Encyclopedia Americana 921A Growing up aside a mile-wide surfaced Mississippi River was the same as Tom Sawyer did Young Samuel must have watched as any boy might admire the strength of this river and the surrounding frontier He seen men killed in waterfront brawls and Negroes that were chained like animals transported up and down the river for slavery in the south Sometimes he would have nightmares by walking in his sleep because of the ride ways and the terror American Authors 193 By the time he was 18 Sam had served an apprentices as a printer on his brothers Orions paper and had tried his hand at writing juvenile sarcasm He even had one humorous sketch The Dandy Frightening the Squatter published in B P Shillabers Carpet Bag which was a New York periodical During the next 10 years from1853 to 1862 he continued his efforts as a humorous writer During those ten years Sam also engaged in another skill He was piloting steamboats on the Mississippi
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