Samuel Langhorne Clemens is the American author and humorist Mark Twain, best known for his novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, along the Mississippi River, and was licensed as a steamboat pilot in 1859. He worked on the river until the Civil War, when fighting interrupted river traffic. He then worked as a traveling reporter, writing stories from all across the United States. This led to his writing career.
His life along the Mississippi River influenced much of his work, and his pen name comes from a common riverboat term for testing the depth of water. If a crew man called “Mark Twain” it meant to check for a depth of 12 feet, the minimum depth required for a river boat to travel safely. Nobel Prize-winning American author William Faulkner called Twain "the father of American literature."
April 21, 2010, marks the centennial of Mark Twain's death.
Photo is courtesy of the Library of Congress creative commons - public domain collection.