Official Blog of Author MICHAEL THOMAS BARRY.
A blog which discusses varied topics that are related to the authors many books. Michael is a columnist for CrimeMagazine.com and a reviewer for The New York Journal of Books.
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Friday, November 28, 2014
Mark Twain was Born - November 30, 1835
This week (November 2-December 4) in English literary
history – William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway (November 28, 1582); Poet
William Blake was born (November 28, 1757); Washington Irving died (November
28, 1859); Louisa May Alcott was born (November 29, 1832); C.S. Lewis was born
(November 29, 1898); Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain was born (November 30,
1835); Jonathan Swift was born (November 30, 1667); Oscar Wilde died (November
30, 1900); Charles Dickens gave first U.S. reading (December 2, 1867); Agatha
Christie disappeared for 11 days (December 3, 1926); Tennessee Williams’ Street Car names Desire premiered
(December 3, 1947); Robert Louis Stevenson died (December 3, 1894); Bram Stoker
married Florence Balcombe (December 4, 1878).
of the week –
Samuel Clemens, later known as Mark Twin, was born on
November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri. Clemens was apprenticed to a printer at
age 13 and later worked for his older brother, who established the Hannibal Journal. In 1857, the Keokuk Daily Post commissioned him to
write a series travel essays, but after writing five he decided to become a
steamboat captain instead. He signed on as a pilot's apprentice in 1857 and
received his pilot's license in 1859, when he was 23.
Clemens piloted boats for two years, until the Civil War
halted steamboat traffic. During his time as a pilot, he picked up the term
"Mark Twain," a boatman's call noting that the river was only two
fathoms deep, the minimum depth for safe navigation. When Clemens returned to
writing in 1861, working for the Virginia
City Territorial Enterprise, he wrote a humorous travel letter signed by
"Mark Twain" and continued to use the pseudonym for the next 50
years. In 1864, he moved to San Francisco to work as a reporter. There, he
wrote the short story that made him famous, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of
In 1866, Twain traveled to Hawaii as a correspondent for
the Sacramento Union. Next, he
traveled the world writing accounts for papers in California and New York.
These travels were later chronicled in The
Innocents Abroad (1869). In 1870, Clemens married the daughter of a wealthy
New York coal merchant and settled in Hartford, Connecticut, where he continued
to write travel accounts and lecture. In 1875, his novel Tom Sawyer was published, followed by Life on the Mississippi (1883) and his masterpiece Huckleberry Finn (1885). Bad investments
left Clemens bankrupt after the publication of Huckleberry Finn, but he won back his financial standing with his
next three books. In 1903, he and his family moved to Italy, where his wife
died. Her death left him depressed and bitter, and his work, while still
humorous, grew distinctly darker. He died on April 21, 1910 from a heart attack
at his home in Redding, Connecticut and was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in
Elmira, New York.
Check back every
Friday for a new installment of “This Week in English Literary History.”
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of six nonfiction books
that include the gold medal winning Literary
Legends of the British Isles and the soon to be released America’s Literary Legends. Visit
Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com
for more information. His books can be purchased from Schiffer Publishing,
Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books, Amazon, and other fine book sellers.