Biography of Mark Twain
Mark Twain was a writer whose works revolved around his childhood experiences growing up on the Mississippi River. The main source of his writing was the time he spent in Hannibal, Missouri as a young boy. He also used his childhood friends in many of his work, such as modeling the character Sid in Huck Finn after his brother Henry. Twain also used the happy times in his life to express his feeling in his writings. Twain used the trials of his life to make his works humorous and all-time American classics.
Twain's life began in the sleepy town of Florida, Missouri. After a few years of living in Florida, Twain's family packed up and moved to Hannibal, Missouri, about 30 miles away from Florida. Hannibal is where most of Twain's thoughts turned into his writings. Hannibal was a small town of 50 people and 3 stores when the Twain family moved in (Foner 16). By the end of the decade it boasted 1,034 persons, a newspaper, a cigar factory, a whisky distillery, and several slaughter houses (16). The key to Hannibal's growth was the main source of Twain's writings the Mississippi River- "the great Mississippi, the magnificent Mississippi, rolling its mile wide tide along" (16). While in Hannibal the young Twain led a life like any other young boy. He played with friends, went swimming, and of course went to school. But tragedy struck while Mark was only 12 years old: his father passed away. Six years later Twain left Hannibal on May 27, 1853 (21). In the autograph album of one of his girl friends, he bade his farewell to Hannibal:
"Good-by, good-by, I bid you now, my friend: And though 'tis hard to say the word, to destiny I bend" (21). Twain was four years old when he was brought to Hannibal; he was eighteen when he left in 1853. Twain well understood the importance of these fourteen years, so lovingly recreated in his major works (21). Almost a half-century later he wrote in Following the Equator: "all that goes to make me in me was in a Missourian village, on the other side of the globe" (21).
After leaving Hannibal, Twain traveled about America as a printer, setting type in composing rooms in St. Louis, New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Keokuk and Muscantine, Iowa (22). Twain's letters to his family during this period, his correspondence to the Muscatine Journal, and the Snodgrass letter reveal his social and political thinking at this stage (22). As in Hannibal, his work as a printer kept him in touch with the literature that went into the newspapers as "fillers" (22).
On April 15, 1857, the Paul Jones, piloted by Horace Bixby, set off for New Orleans from Cincinnati (23). On board was a young Mark Twain. From the gulf port he planned to sail for the Amazon to make a fortune in cocoa (23). But when he walked up the gang plank, he was headed not for South America but for a new career -- the profession of piloting (23). This is the beginning of Twain's life on the muddy Mississippi River and many experiences...