Twain first began his writing career in his mid-teens by writing articles for a local paper. Later, after his days of piloting along the Mississippi, he became known for his humorous and clever travel tales. Readers came to know him as a man with his finger on the pulse of American culture and life.
In 1876, Twain published The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Set in the fictional town of St. Petersburg, modeled after Hannibal, Missouri, the story follows Sawyer’s adventures along the Mississippi River. The book paints a picture of the American South, at once realistic and fantastic. Sawyer’s boyhood observations are matched with thoughtful descriptions of American society that fascinated the country at large.
Later, in 1884, Twain produced the sequel to Sawyer’s story, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Unlike other novels of the time, this was considered the first in which characters made use of the local slang. Along with the book’s exploration and objection of racism, the story is about the coming of age of Finn. Within the pages, Finn must learn how to live a good life and stay true to his own values.
Sadly, Twain’s later years were troubled by a deep depression. He died of a heart attack in 1910, leaving behind a literary legacy that, in America, sits second to none.