Published on August 9, 2007
Early Writing Years: Early Writing Years By: Hannah The Pass of Halley’s Comet: The Pass of Halley’s Comet November 30, 1835 Halley’s Comet streaked through the sky. That night, Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born to Jane and John Clemens in Florida, Missouri. At the time, young Sam had four siblings; Orion, Benjamin, Pamela, and Margaret. In Sam’s youth, his mother was constantly feeding him home remedies, for he had poor health. Life in Hannibal: Life in Hannibal In 1839, the Clemens family moved to Hannibal, Missouri. Each summer, Sam would visit his uncle’s farm. On his uncle’s farm there was a slave by the name of Uncle Daniel. Uncle Daniel was the model for Jim in Huckleberry Finn. Sam’s best friend’s older brother, Ben Blankenship, once found a runaway slave from Monroe County hiding outside Hannibal. Instead of turning the man in for the sum of money Ben definitely could have used, Ben fed the man all summer. At some point, though, woodchoppers came upon the slave’s hideout, and chased him through a marsh, where he unfortunately drowned. Ignoring School: Ignoring School Sam disliked school. Sam’s schooling began at the age of four. He was taught prayers, he was taught from the bible, and he was also taught from a little education book called McGuffey’s Readers. When Sam was twelve, his teacher was Mr. J.D. Dawson. Mr. Dawson was the model for Mr. Dobbins in Tom Sawyer. Sam excelled at spelling. He regularly won the medal for the Spelling Bees that were regularly held once a week in school. Sam eventually quit his schooling at the age of thirteen. Death and a New Start: Death and a New Start In 1842, Sam’s brother Benjamin died. In 1847, Sam’s father died of pnemonia at the age of forty-nine after going bankrupt with his company. Since his father died when Sam was twelve, Sam had to work next to his brother Orion as a printer’s apprentice for the ' Journal'. Being an apprentice started a ten-year career in newspapers as Orion’s assistant editor and a journeyman printer around the country. Looking for a Living: Looking for a Living As Sam worked for the 'Journal', he began writing stories. He wrote about Hannibal. In 1851, he published two short non-fiction stories about Hannibal in Philidelphia’s ' Saturday Evening Post'. When Sam was sixteen, Boston’s humor magazine, ' The Carpet Bag', published Sam’s ' The Yankee Frightening the Squatter' under the signature of S.L.C. In the same month, May of 1852, Sam wrote about Hannibal for the 'American Courier' in Philidelphia. Although, Sam wrote something entirely imaginative about the Indians that once inhabited Hannibal. Looking for a Living: Looking for a Living Sam was unfortunately not paid for his early stories. In June 1853, he left Hannibal to explore the world. His first destinatin was St. Louis, which wasn’t that far from Hannibal. Sam had many other adventures and destinations. Clemens wrote three books about his character, Tom Sawyer. When he was 18, he set out to make a living as a typesetter. In St. Louis Sam got a job in a composing room for St. Louis’ 'Evening News'. He stayed only long enough to earn money to reach New York City. Sam arrived in NYC with a few dollars and a $10 bill sewn in his coat. He got a job at a printing establishment for $4 per week as well as room and board on Duane Street. Moving: Moving He stayed only a few months in NYC. When he left NYC, he moved to Philadelphia, and got a job working for the Inquirer, which was a daily newspaper. Sam liked Philadelphia much more then NYC. With an exception to submitting a few poems to the Philadelphia Ledger, which were turned down, he generally forgot about writing until Orion, who had bought a newspaper office in Muscatine, Iowa , urged Sam to contribute. A Pause in Writing: A Pause in Writing Sam replied that he would try to write for Orion’s paper, but only occasionally, for he feared that his stories would be a bore, because of all the night work that made his stories dull. Sam found little enjoyment in being a typesetter. Sam began to grow restless and homesick. In January 1854 he quit his typesetting job and made a short trip to Washington, D.C. then returned back to Philadelphia to briefly work on two papers. Then he again went to New York. Homesick: Homesick By the late summer he just couldn’t stand being away from home any longer. He then took a train to Muscatine, where Orion and most of the Clemens family were living. When Sam returned home, Orion wanted Sam to work for him. However, Sam declined the offer having experienced Orion’s financial ups and downs. Instead, he went to work for the 'Evening News.' Job Offer: Job Offer Orion married and moved to Keokuk, Iowa. Between the summer and winter of 1855 Sam visited Orion. Orion offered $5.00 per week as well as room and board if Sam would work as a journeyman printer. This time Sam accepted and worked for most of two years.