- from Mark Twain
To the world, he is Mark Twain. But he was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens.
On the night of his birth in 1835, Halley’s comet tore brilliantly across the night sky. In 1910, the comet reappeared, and Clemens died. Halley’s comet comes and goes every 75 years. But Mark Twain’s brilliance has kept shining steadily to this day. He grew from a little boy who loved to stretch the truth into the greatest American storyteller of his time.
He was a man of many contradictions. He grew up in a slave state, his father owned an enslaved African American, and he had slave-owning relatives. But Twain came to see that slavery was wrong and wrote a powerful novel about it. He made fun of the rich, but he did everything he could to get rich. He was angry about all kinds of injustices in the world, but he used humor to shine a light on those injustices. People loved him for his humor, but he wanted to be known for his serious work.
Keep reading to meet America’s beloved and complicated Mark Twain.