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A pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens 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 Mississippi river port when he was four years old There he received a public school education After the death of his father in 1847 Clemens was apprenticed to two Hannibal printers and in 1851 he began setting type for and contributing sketches to his brother Orions Hannibal Journal Subsequently he was a journeyman printer in Keokuk Iowa New York City Philadelphia Pennsylvania and other cities Later Clemens was a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River until the American Civil War brought an end to travel on the river In 1861 Clemens served briefly as a volunteer soldier in an irregular company of Confederate cavalry Later that year he accompanied his brother to the newly created Nevada Territory where he tried his hand at silver mining 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 After moving to San Francisco in 1864 Twain met the American writers Artemus Ward and Bret Harte who encouraged him in his work In 1865 Twain reworked a tale he had heard in the California gold fields within months the author and the story The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County had become national sensations In 1867 Twain lectured in New York City and in the same year he visited Europe and the Holy Land He wrote of these travels in The Innocents Abroad a book burlesquing those aspects of Old World culture that impress American tourists In 1870 he married Olivia Langdon After living briefly in Buffalo New
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