Samuel Longhorn Clemens was born on November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri, which is located in Monroe County. His parents, John and Jane Clemens, already had five other children.
In 1839, the family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, which is located on the Mississippi River in Ralls County. Sam spent his childhood playing along the Mississippi River and watching the steamboats as they docked in Hannibal.
Clemens began an apprenticeship with Joseph Ament of the Missouri Courier in 1848. His father had died a year earlier. By the age of 16, Sam wrote his first published sketches and worked as a printer for his brother, Orion.
Clemens left Hannibal in 1853 at the age of 18 and worked in New York and Philadelphia. He returned to the midwest a year later.
At the age of 21, Sam began an apprenticeship as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi. He got his pilot's license in 1859. The beginning of the Civil War in April of 1861 put an end to his career as a steamboat pilot since all traffic on the river was suspended.
In the summer of 1861, Sam's brother Orion was appointed Governor of the Nevada Territory. Sam accompanied him there to act as his secretary; however, Sam got involved in mining but never did strike it rich. He had to work in a quartz mill to support himself.
The next few years found Clemens working for various newspapers in Nevada and California. At the end of 1866, he moved to New York and found employment that would send him on a trip to Europe, Russian and the Middle East. Before leaving on that trip, he arranged to publish his first book, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches." Through his stints with the newspapers and lecture tours, 31 year old Mr. Clemens was becoming rather well known.
Samuel Clemens married Olivia (Livey) Langdon in 1870. The bride's father bought them a house in Buffalo, New York and Sam settled down to a more stable life style.
In 1871, the couple rented at house at Nooks Farm in Hartford, Conn. Sam published "Roughing It", bought a parcel of land to build a house and continued on his lecture tours. His daughter, Suzy was born in March. In 1874, their second daughter, Clara, was born and their third and final daughter, Jean was born in 1880.
Now settled into his own home in Hartford, Clemens devoted himself to writing novels and sketches, and performing the occasional lecture. It was the period of Clemens' greatest literary output.
At this time, Sam began tapping into his youthful experiences in Hannibal as material for some of the most famous novels in his catalogue — "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", published in 1876; "Life On The Mississippi", 1883; and "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", 1885. The family spent a year and a half in Europe, in 1878/79, in order for Sam to collect material for a travel book, which resulted in 1880's A Tramp Abroad. A year later, The Prince And The Pauper was released. This was Clemens' first attempt at writing historical fiction with a serious theme, a marked departure from the humorous books of his earlier career. Another classic historical novel, although more satirical, was A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court, released in 1889.
By the early 1890s, Clemens' financial situation was in poor shape as a result of these failures, and the cost of living an extravagant social lifestyle at the house in Hartford. In order to stave off personal bankruptcy, Sam closed down the Hartford house in 1891, and took the family to live in Europe. Throughout most of the decade, the Clemens family lived at various addresses in France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy.
Regardless of his financial situation, Clemens finished numerous novels and sketches such as "The American Claimant" (1892), "Tom Sawyer Abroad" (1894), "Pudd'nhead Wilson" (1894), "Personal Recollections of Joan Of Arc" (1895), and "The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg" (1898). In 1895/96, Clemens and family undertook an around-the-world lecture tour, which also provided him with material for his final travel book, "Following The Equator" (1897). Tragedy struck during the tour, however, when eldest daughter Susy died in Hartford in 1896, a tragic blow to the family.
Shortly after buying a house in Tarrytown, N.Y., Livy became seriously ill and spent long periods of isolation in Maine, before being advised to seek the warmer climate of Florence, Italy, in late 1903. Sam and Livy were apart for most of the time leading up to her death in Florence in June 1904.
Clemens spent the years following Livy's death primarily in New York City. After selling the Tarrytown house in 1904, he lived at 21 Fifth Ave. until 1908, primarily writing and making public appearances. In 1905, Clemens dined at the White House with Theodore Roosevelt, and a gala 70th birthday banquet was held at Delmonico's in New York. In 1907, Clemens received an honorary degree from Oxford University.
By 1908, Clemens moved into his final home, a residence in Redding, Conn., which he called Stormfield. In December 1909, Clemens' youngest daughter, Jean, died at Stormfield. Immediately after this tragedy, Twain wrote "The Death Of Jean", the last substantial writing he completed. The piece recalled the sudden tragedy of the death, and his feelings regarding the loss of his other family members. Following its completion, Clemens vowed never to write again.
Clemens' health rapidly deteriorated after Jean's death. On April 21, 1910, Clemens sank into a coma at Stormfield. At sunset, his heart failed and he died in his bed. He was 74 years old.
In November 1835, at the time of Clemens' birth, Halley's Comet made an appearance in the night sky. Strikingly, the comet's next appearance came during April 1910, the period of Clemens' death. Throughout his life, Clemens said that he would "go out with the comet," knowing the 75-year span between the comet's appearances. His prediction was amazingly accurate.