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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is the first of Mark Twain's novels to feature one of the best-loved characters in American fiction, with a critical introduction by John Seelye in Penguin Classics. From the famous episodes of the whitewashed fence and the ordeal in the cave to the trial of Injun Joe, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is redolent of life in the Mississippi River towns in which Twain spent his own youth. A sombre undercurrent flows through the high humour and unabashed nostalgia of the novel, however, for beneath the innocence of childhood lie the inequities of adult reality - base emotions and superstitions, murder and revenge, starvation and slavery. In his illuminating introduction, noted Twain scholar John Seelye considers Twain's impact on American letters and discusses the balance between humorous escapades and serious concern that is found in much of Twain's writing. Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910) trained as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi river; 'Mark Twain', a phrase used on riverboats to indicate that the water is two fathoms deep, became the pseudonym by which he was best known. After the Civil War, Twain turned to journalism, publishing his first short story in 1865. Dubbed 'the father of American literature' by William Faulkner, Twain led a colourful life of travelling, bankruptcy and great literary success. If you enjoyed The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, you may like Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, also available in Penguin Classics. 'The hero is one of the most endearing in literature' Daily Telegraph



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Mark Twain

, better known by his pen name , was an American author and humorist. He is noted for his novels (1885) , called "the Great American Novel", and Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for and . He apprenticed with a printer. He also worked as a typesetter and contributed articles to his older brother Orion's newspaper. After toiling as a printer in various cities, he became a master riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River, before heading west to join Orion. He was a failure at gold mining, so he next turned to journalism. While a reporter, he wrote a humorous story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," which proved to be very popular and brought him nationwide attention. His travelogues were also well-received. Twain had found his calling. He achieved great success as a writer and public speaker. His wit and satire earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty. However, he lacked financial acumen. Though he made a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, he squandered it on various ventures, in particular the Paige Compositor, and was forced to declare bankruptcy. With the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers, however, he eventually overcame his financial troubles. Twain worked hard to ensure that all of his creditors were paid in full, even though his bankruptcy had relieved him of the legal responsibility. Born during a visit by Halley's Comet, he died on its return. He was lauded as the "greatest American humorist of his age", and called Twain "the father of American literature".



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