- from Mark Twain
To most people, he is Mark Twain. But he was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens.
On the night he was born in 1835, Halley’s comet appeared as a bright streak of light in the sky. In 1910, the comet reappeared. Clemens died that night. Halley’s comet comes and goes every 75 years. But Mark Twain’s brightness shines to this day. A little boy who loved to stretch the truth grew up to be the greatest American storyteller of his time.
Twain was a man of many opposites. 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. He wrote a great book to show that. He made fun of how the rich thought they were better than others. But he worked hard to get rich. He was angry about all kinds of unfairness in the world. But he used humor to point out that unfairness. Everyone loved him for his sense of humor. But he wanted to be known for his serious works.
Want to know more about the beloved—and complex—Mark Twain? Let’s take a closer look at his life and times.