Mark Twain, pseudonym of SAMUEL LANGHORNE CLEMENS (1835-1910), was born November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri. In 1862 he became a reporter on the Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City, Nevada, and in 1863 began signing his articles with the pseudonym "Mark Twain," a Mississippi River phrase meaning two fathoms deep. In 1865 Twain reworked a tale he had heard in the California gold fields; within months the author and the story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," had become national sensations.
His other works include The Innocents Abroad (1869), Roughing It (1872) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), A Tramp Abroad (1880), The Prince and the Pauper (1882), Life on the Mississippi (1883) A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), Following the Equator (1897), Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894), Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896), as well as the short stories: "The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg" (1899) and "The War Prayer" (1905). One of America's most important writers, Twain is justly renowned as a humorist, but his literary reputation also rests on his realistic use of dialects and the vernacular, especially of the Mississippi River Valley, in delineating characters and scenes of mid-19th century American life. He was a celebrity during his later years, receiving an honorary doctorate from Oxford University in 1907. He died in New York City on April 21, 1910.
BIG RIVER, a musical by Roger Miller and William Hauptman, was based on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It received 7 Tony Awards in 1985, including Best Musical.