Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, is perhaps the most
distinguished author of American Literature. Next to William Shakespeare,

Clemens is arguably the most prominent writer the world has ever seen. In 1818,

Jane Lampton found interest in a serious young lawyer named John Clemens. With
the Lampton family in heavy debt and Jane only 15 years of age, she soon married

John. The family moved to Gainesboro, Tennessee where Jane gave birth to Orion

Clemens. In the summer of 1827 the Clemenses relocated to Virginia where John
purchased thousands of acres of land and opened a legal advice store. The lack
of success of the store led John to drink heavily. Scared by his addiction, John
vowed never to drink again. Even though John now resisted alcohol, he faced
other addictions. His concoction of aloe, rhubarb, and a narcotic cost him most
of his savings and money soon became tight (Paine 34-35). The family soon grew
with the birth of Pamela late in 1827. Their third child, Pleasant Hannibal, did
not live past three months, due to illness. In 1830 Margaret was born and the
family moved to Pall Mall, a rural county in Tennessee. After Henryís birth in

1832, the value of their farmland greatly depreciated and sent the Clemenses on
the road again. Now they would stay with Janeís sister in Florida, Missouri
where she ran a successful business with her husband. Clemens was born on

November 30, 1835, in the small remote town of Florida, Missouri. Samuelís
parents, John Marshall and Jane Cohen 2 Lampton Clemens never gave up on their
child, who was two months premature with little hope of survival. This was
coincidentally the same night as the return of Halleyís Comet. The Clemenses
were a superstitious family and believed that Halleyís Comet was a portent of
good fortune. Writing as Mark Twain, Samuel L. Clemens would claim that Florida,

Missouri "contained 100 people and I increased the population by one percent.

It is more than the best man in history ever did for any other town" (Hoffman

15). 1847 proved to be a horrific year for John Clemens. He ventured to Palmyra
in order to find work on the county seat. On his voyage home he found himself in
a devastating snowstorm which left him ill with pneumonia. He stayed at his
friend Dr. Grantís house, ill and jaded, where he rested and grew weak. He
died on March 24, 1847 at the age of 48 (Kaplan 112-125). Samuel was eleven
years old when his father passed away. He was of ambiguous emotions. He had
dreaded his father, yet at the same time respected him. The onus of taking care
of the family was now on Samuel and Orionís shoulders. He attended school and
for additional cash delivered newspapers and aided storekeepers. His expertise
was with Joseph Ament, editor of the Missouri Courier, where he was an
apprentice. In the fall of 1850, Samuelís brother Orion purchased a printing
press and expected Samuel to work on his newspaper. They began work on the

Hannibal Western Union where Orion printed all of Samuelís essays and
articles. Although the newspaper was unprofitable, and deemed a failure by most,

Orion and Samuel saw themselves as a success. They soon changed the name to the

Journal and now had the largest circulation of any newspaper in the region. It
was filled with works both original and copied from other sources. This was
acceptable in a society without copyrights. When the Journal gained success,

Orion refused to print some of Samuelís works. He, however took his writing
elsewhere. He wrote for the Carpet-Bag and the Philadelphia American Cohen 3

Courier, berating his old town and the Hannibal natives. He signed each work
with the initials "S.L.C." Orion left town for awhile and gave the duty of
editor to Samuel. He quickly took advantage of Orionís absence. He wrote
articles of town news and prose poetry that revealed characteristics of the boy
who would eventually transform into Mark Twain. In these articles he would use
his first of many pseudonyms, W. Epaminondas Adrastus Blab. Orionís return
ended both Samuelís developing humor and burning satire. Orion decided to
publish the Journal daily and it gave Samuel an opportunity to write more
material, but at the same time overworked him. When Orion deleted local news
from the newspaper, interest was lost and the rival Messenger began outselling
the Journal. This prompted Samuel to leave Orion and the Journal behind at the
age of eighteen. He had bigger aspirations and vowed never to let a place trap