Mark Twain, 1871
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910) was an American humorist, lecturer, and writer. Under the pen name Mark Twain, by which he is most commonly known, he wrote travel narratives and adventure stories that made him a beloved figure of American literary culture.
Childhood and Apprenticeships
Twain’s childhood was spent in Hannibal, Missouri, a backdrop he would later use in his famous novels. His youth was spent in various printing-related jobs until his apprenticeship with riverboat captain Horace Bixby in 1857. Here he found freedom, brotherhood, and a compelling pseudonym.
Throughout this time Twain continued to write for various papers and publications. But it was not until 1865, when he published Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog under the name Mark Twain, that he began to gain celebrity as a writer.
Writing and Family Life
In 1867 Twain took a trip that would lead to The Innocents Abroad, an account of the voyage and his first great literary success. He married Olivia Langdon in 1870 and had four children: Langdon (1870), who died in infancy; Susy (1872); Clara (1874); and Jean (1880). By 1875 he had established himself as an author, had a comfortable home in Connecticut, and was financially stable.
His popular novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published in 1876. The companion novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, was published in the U.S. in 1885, and its realism and exploration of human cruelty through a boy’s eyes has led to its reputation as a controversial but enduring work.
His fortune turned in the years following the release of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Heavy debts and the death of his daughter Susy took their toll. Twain grew frustrated by his reputation as a humorist only and turned to more serious novels, biting satires, and critical essays about anti-Semitism, lynching, imperialism, and other moral issues.
Olivia died in 1904, followed unexpectedly by their daughter Jean in 1909. Of his immediate family only Clara would survive Twain, and several of his later works were written to deal with these losses. Twain died in 1910, having secured a place as not only as a humorist, but as a philosopher, moralist, and one of America’s quintessential novelists.
Learn more about Mark Twain through historical newspapers from our archives. Explore newspaper articles, headlines, images, and other primary sources below.
Articles and Clippings about Mark Twain
Mark Twain's "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog" called "exquisitely humorous" Thu, Dec 7, 1865 – Page 1 · Lancaster Gazette (Lancaster, Fairfield, Ohio, United States of America) · Newspapers.comMark Twain satire about women's suffrage from a 1867 newspaper Fri, Mar 22, 1867 – Page 2 · The Weekly News-Democrat (Emporia, Kansas, United States of America) · Newspapers.comPhysical description of Mark Twain, 1869 Sat, Nov 20, 1869 – Page 6 · The Evening Telegraph (Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comMarriage notice for Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) and Olivia Langdon in 1870 Thu, Feb 3, 1870 – 4 · Buffalo Morning Express and Illustrated Buffalo Express (Buffalo, New York, United States of America) · Newspapers.com"The Innocents Abroad": Mark Twain's travels in Europe Sun, Sep 18, 1870 – 5 · Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.com1877 review of Mark Twain's book, "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" Thu, Apr 19, 1877 – Page 1 · The Milan Exchange (Milan, Gibson, Tennessee) · Newspapers.comThe story of how Mark Twain and Charles Warner came to write their book "The Gilded Age" Sat, Sep 21, 1878 – 2 · The Wichita Herald (Wichita, Kansas, United States of America) · Newspapers.com1885 review of Mark Twain's book "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" Tue, Feb 3, 1885 – 3 · The Morning Post (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.comNewspaper account of Mark Twain umpiring a baseball game in New York in 1887 Mon, Jul 4, 1887 – Page 1 · San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, San Francisco, California) · Newspapers.comA critic reviews Mark Twain's newest novel, "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" Mon, Dec 23, 1889 – Page 4 · Pittsburgh Dispatch (Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comNewspaper reports Mark Twain was tried before an Admiralty Court at sea on his way to Germany Thu, Nov 10, 1892 – 2 · The Weekly News (Mansfield, Richland, Ohio, United States of America) · Newspapers.comArticle announces death of Olivia "Susy" Clemens Thu, Aug 20, 1896 – 7 · Star-Gazette (Elmira, Chemung, New York, United States of America) · Newspapers.comBritish newspaper reports on Mark Twain being in debt, 1897 Fri, Jul 2, 1897 – Page 30 · The Westminster Budget (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.comNewspaper article about Mark Twain's stay in Vienna Sun, Dec 19, 1897 – 41 · Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States of America) · Newspapers.comArticle tells story of Mark Twain look-alike in Kansas Fri, Jul 7, 1899 – Page 3 · Bismarck Weekly Tribune (Bismarck, Burleigh, North Dakota) · Newspapers.comMark Twain returns from his travels in Europe Sun, Oct 1, 1899 – 15 · Sunday News (Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne, Pennsylvania, United States of America) · Newspapers.com1899 newspaper feature about author Mark Twain's life and family Sun, Dec 10, 1899 – Page 52 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America) · Newspapers.comHeadline announces the death of Olivia Langdon, wife of Mark Twain Fri, Jun 24, 1904 – 12 · The Mitchell Capital (Mitchell, South Dakota, United States of America) · Newspapers.comJean Clemens' unexpected death announced on Christmas Eve, 1909 Fri, Dec 24, 1909 – 7 · Star-Gazette (Elmira, Chemung, New York, United States of America) · Newspapers.com"Mark Twain dies at Stormfield": Newspaper account of the famous author's death in 1910 Fri, Apr 22, 1910 – 3 · The Lincoln Star (Lincoln, Lancaster, Nebraska, United States of America) · Newspapers.comNewspaper reports on Samuel Clemens's death; includes image of Mark Twain Fri, Apr 22, 1910 – Page 1 · The Kansas City Times (Kansas City, Jackson, Missouri) · Newspapers.comPhoto of Mark Twain's home at Hartford, Connecticut Fri, Apr 16, 1920 – Page 9 · Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota, United States of America) · Newspapers.comPhoto of Mark Twain's boyhood home in Hannibal, Missouri Tue, Jan 24, 1911 – Page 4 · The San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, San Bernardino, California) · Newspapers.com