- from Mark Twain
The world knows him as Mark Twain, but he was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens.
On the night of his birth in 1835, Halley’s comet appeared as a brilliant streak of light in the sky. In 1910, the comet reappeared, and Clemens died. Though Halley’s comet comes and goes every 75 years, Mark Twain’s brilliance has kept shining steadily to this day. From a little boy who loved to stretch the truth, Sam Clemens grew 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 some of his relatives kept slaves. But Twain came to see that slavery was wrong, and he wrote a powerful novel that made that point. He made fun of the pretensions of the rich, but he did everything he could to get rich. He seethed with anger about all kinds of injustices in the world, but he used humor to call attention to those injustices. He was loved by all for his uproarious humor, but he wanted to be known for his serious works.
Read on to find out more about America’s beloved and complicated Mark Twain.