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Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri, in 1835, and died at Redding, Connecticut in 1910. In his person and in his pursuits he was a man of extraordinary contrasts. Although he left school at twelve when his father died, he was eventually awarded honorary degrees from Yale University, the University of Missouri, and Oxford University. His career encompassed such varied occupations as printer, Mississippi riverboat pilot, journalist, travel writer, and publisher. He made fortunes from his writing but toward the end of his life he had to resort to lecture tours to pay his debts. He was hot-tempered, profane, and sentimental--and also pessimistic, cynical, and tortured by self-doubt. His nostalgia helped produce some of his best books. He lives in American letters as a great artist, the writer whom William Dean Howells called "the Lincoln of our literature." Tom Quirk is the Catherine Paine Middlebush Professor of English at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is the editor of the Penguin Classics editions of Mark Twain's Tales, Speeches, Essays, and Sketches (1994) and Ambrose Bierce's Tales of Soldiers and Civilians and Other Stories (2000) and co-editor of The Portable American Realism Reader (1997). His other books include Coming to Grips with Huckleberry Finn (1993), Mark Twain: A Study of the Short Fiction (1997) and Nothing Abstract: Investigations in the American Literary Imagination (2001).
"Trying to put your arms around Mark Twain is like trying to embrace the Mississippi. He is endless. This Portable, however, should open his richness to the new reader and remind the older ones of the wealth they may have forgotten. Reading him again is like biting into fresh bread."--Arthur Miller "An indispensable anthology of America's indispensable author." --Justin Kaplan "If you need a good solid comprehensive handful of Mark Twain to keep with you--and who doesn't?--this is it." --Roy Blount, Jr. "If this isn't the thoughtfulest and usefulest hand-tooled gilt-edged one-volume Twain, I am a horned toad." --Frederick Crews