Samuel Langhorne Clemens adopts pseudonym Mark Twain
In 1863, Samuel Clemens was writing for Territorial Enterprise, when he wrote a humorous account of his travels, signing his piece with the pseudonym Mark Twain, the call he used as a riverboat pilot to signal that the water was two fathoms deep, safe for a boat's passage. This name he would continue to use when publishing in the future. At the time he was writing humorous columns reporting around the country. While on a reporting assignment, he met his mentor, Artemus Ward, who encouraged and aided him.
After writing about his travel experiences around the United States, he left for a world tour, including Europe and the Middle East, publishing the tale of his journey in The Innocents Abroad, a very popular work. This fame gave Mark Twain' a loyal following. He followed his mentor's advice and continued to write and write; his works included several novels depicting life in the South: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, and Life on the Mississippi. He described a picture of life in the South, especially in his native Missouri, writing from his own perspective as a deserter of the Civil War. Huckleberry Finn explored the life of a riverboat pilot and a runaway slave floating down the Mississippi, again quasi-autobiographical. He used not only authentic portrayals of life in the South, but also the vernacular language of his native Missouri. Tom Sawyer drew on material from the author's own childhood experiences growing up, and Life on the Mississippi describes the life of a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi, another autobiographical treatment of the South.
The impact of Clemens' work was widely renowned throughout America, with even Ernest Hemmingway writing, All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn'.' His works were renowned for their authenticity, both in style and in content. While many of his works were published after the conclusion of the Civil War, he gained much of his experience while traveling around the country during this time.
- Books, Autographs, and Mss of Samuel L. Clemens (New York, NY: Parke-Bernet Galleries, 1956).
- Alan Gribben, "The Importance of Mark Twain," American Quarterly Vol. 37, No. 1 (1985): 30-49.
- Lawrence Howe, "Transcending the Limits of Experience: Mark Twain?s Life on the Mississippi," American Literature Vol. 63, No. 3 (1991): 420-439.