Mark Twain: A Biography. Volume 1: 1835-1885 – Albert Bigelow Paine
Mark Twain’s humour has secured him a large audience not only in America and this country, but also in Germany and other Continental countries. It is the dry, incisive humour of a shrewd man of the world who, having gone through life with his eyes wide open, has cheered himself by laughing not merely at the faibles of his fellow-men, but, by implication, at his own as well. He was not very reverent in his attitude towards what he considers worn-out survivals of old beliefs and superstitions, and sometimes poked fun without much discrimination. This is volume one out of two of one of the best biographies ever written about this outstanding author and covers the years 1835 to 1885.
Mark Twain: A Biography. Volume 1: 1835-1885.
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Biography of Mark Twain (from Wikipedia):
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. Among his novels are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called „The Great American Novel“.
Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, which later provided the setting for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. He served an apprenticeship with a printer and then worked as a typesetter, contributing articles to the newspaper of his older brother Orion Clemens. He later became a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before heading west to join Orion in Nevada. He referred humorously to his lack of success at mining, turning to journalism for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. His humorous story, „The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County“, was published in 1865, based on a story that he heard at Angels Hotel in Angels Camp, California where he had spent some time as a miner. The short story brought international attention and was even translated into French. His wit and satire, in prose and in speech, earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.
Twain earned a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, but he invested in ventures that lost most of it—notably the Paige Compositor, a mechanical typesetter that failed because of its complexity and imprecision. He filed for bankruptcy in the wake of these financial setbacks, but he eventually overcame his financial troubles with the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers. He chose to pay all his pre-bankruptcy creditors in full, even after he had no legal responsibility to do so.
Twain was born shortly after an appearance of Halley’s Comet, and he predicted that he would „go out with it“ as well; he died the day after the comet returned. He was lauded as the „greatest humorist this country has produced“, and William Faulkner called him „the father of American literature“.
(The text of the last section was taken from a Wikipedia entry and is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)
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