Renowned 19th-century author who wrote Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and became famous for his unparalleled wit and storytelling ability. Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, he wrote under the pen name of Mark Twain and is widely considered one of the most important American literary figures.
He worked as a printer's apprentice and wrote for a newspaper before earning his riverboat pilot's license in 1859. Six years later, his short story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," brought him international acclaim.
He was born during and died soon after the arrival of Halley's Comet.
He was one of seven children born to Jane Lampton Clemens and John Marshall Clemens, and he spent his childhood in Hannibal, Missouri, which became the setting of his most famous novels. He married Olivia Langdon in 1870, and the couple went on to have four children.
Experimental southern writer William Faulkner called Mark Twain the father of American literature.