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This Day in History

World History

Thursday, April 21, 1910. :   American author and satirist, Mark Twain, born during the appearance of Halley's Comet, dies as the comet returns.

     American writer Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on 30 November 1835, in Florida, Missouri. He grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, and later worked as a licensed Mississippi river-boat pilot. Writing from a mixture of experience and imagination, the pseudonym 'Mark Twain' was spawned in 1861 when he signed a humorous travel account with that name. He acquired this name as a result of his time as a boat pilot, when a boatman's call would announce "Mark twain", meaning that the river was only two fathoms deep, the minimum depth for safe navigation.

Twain is best known for stories such as "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (1876), "The Prince And The Pauper" (1881), "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (1884), "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" (1889) and "The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson" (1894). As well as short stories, speeches, and essays, he penned some autobiographical works, including "The Innocents Abroad" (1869), "A Tramp Abroad" (1880), "Life on the Mississippi" (1883), and "Mark Twain's Autobiography." He continued writing under the pseudonym of Mark Twain until his death on 21 April 1910.

When Twain was born, Halley's Comet could be seen in the sky. A year before his death, Twain commented, "I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it... The Almighty has said, no doubt: 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.'"

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