Mark Twain
It is indisputable that, during his many years of writing, Mark Twain
established himself as a literary genius. It is also indisputable that the
primary reason for his success as an author was his quick wit and sense of
humor. During this nation’s time of political and social division, Twain wrote
about many of the simpler things in life while always showing his humorist side.

His brilliant comedic mind was especially unusual for any popular writer around
during this rough time period in the nation’s history. Mark Twain’s humorist
views and writings truly solidify him as the forefather of American humor.

Unlike many writers of his time, Samuel Clemens, better known as his pen name,

Mark Twain never secluded himself or slaved over a piece of work. He enjoyed
playing billiards or sitting on his porch, smoking a pipe. He lived with his
wife and three daughters, and did most of writing in his billiards room or on
his bed. He lived a simple, casual life, which proved to encourage his laidback,
humorist attitude. (Whipple, Sally) William Dean Howells once compared Twain’s
lifestyle to the other famous writers of his time. "Emerson, Longfellow,

Lowell, Holmes... they were like one another and like other literary men; but

Clemens was sole, incomparable." (Twainweb) This being Jones 2 perhaps the
best explanation for Twain’s unique humorist views, it is no doubt this
lifestyle provided for his creative storytelling and successful career as an
author. Mark Twain, a native of Missouri who lived most his childhood in
poverty, began his career, surprisingly, as a steamboat pilot. This career path
was soon to be interrupted by the Civil War, in which he served for the

Confederate Army for two weeks before withdrawing. Already at this point in his
life, Twain was showing his humorist side when he commented on this incident
saying, "...it was my retirement from it that brought the crash. It left the

Confederate side too weak." (Ayers, 42) After the Civil War, Twain began his
career as a journalist. He bounced from one city to another, including a stay at

Virginia City, Nevada and San Francisco. While in San Francisco, Twain wrote The

Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, his first nationally acclaimed
work. This tale of young boys and frog races combined the themes of youth and
humor, a combination he would revisit frequently. (Budd, 32) Finally, in 1869,

Twain’s first book, The Innocents Abroad, was published and released. This
story provided many humorous quotes which Twain would become famous for. For
example, Twain commented on Italy saying, "The Creator made Italy with designs
by Michelangelo." (Ayers, 126) Twain would create his most famous, and
humorous, quotes later on while living in Hartford. In the early 1870’s, Twain
and his newlywed wife, Olivia Langdon, moved into a three-story house in

Hartford, Connecticut, where he would spend his most successful years. The first
book Twain wrote while in Hartford was Roughing It, which was Jones 3 released
in 1872. Despite many humorous moments during the book, its popularity and
comedic were very slight compared to his next book, The Adventures of Tom

Sawyer. Considered by many as one of Twain’s greatest stories, The Adventures
of Tom Sawyer revisits the theme of youth combined with humor which he often
almost thrives off of at times. Tom Sawyer, which came out four years after

Roughing It, was released to mixed crowds. The book was banned in several areas
and sales were slow to begin with. Eventually, people were able to look past
many of the controversial issues in the book and see the humorist side of the
book, which would eventually make the book a classic. (Mark Twain in His Times)

This book, more so than others, indirectly poked fun at adults for forgetting
their childhood. In the preface of Tom Sawyer, Twain explains his reason for
writing it. "Part of my plan has been to pleasantly remind adults of what they
were themselves, and how they felt and thought and talked, and what queer
enterprises they sometimes engaged in." (Ayers, 37) This statement does a good
job of not only pointing something relatively obvious, but also makes fun of
life at its simplest. This is a humorist style that has made him not only one of

America’s most famous writers, but also a legendary role model for many other
authors and comedians who have become famous themselves. One such man who has
idolized Mark Twain was the famous twentieth century actor and comedian, Hal

Holbrook. In 1959, Holbrook, a mere seventeen year old actor portrayed an older

Twain in the show, Mark Twain Tonight! Though,