The writer’s real name was Samuel Clemens. Samuel was born in 1835. He grew up in the state of Missouri on the Mississippi River. After his father died, young Samuel went to work as an assistant to a publisher. Ten years later, he became a pilot on a steamboat that sailed on the Mississippi. He heard the riverboat workers call out the words "mark twain!" That was a measure for the depth of water. Later he used this word combination as a pen-name.
In 1861 Clemens travelled west and became a reporter for newspapers in Nevada and California. He wrote news stories, editorials and sketches under his pen-name Mark Twain. He became one of the best known storytellers in the West. He developed his own narrative style – friendly, funny, and often satirical, which won him a wide audience. The first success came with the story ‘The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County’.
Mark Twain travelled a lot during his lifetime not only round the USA but also to Europe and the Holy Land. He naturally began writing books about his travels. ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ was published in 1876, and soon after he began writing a sequel, ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’.
It took Mark Twain longer to write ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ than any of his other books. He started writing in 1876, but put the story away after about two years of work. He returned to it in 1883, and the following year it was published.
From the beginning, the book was strongly debated. Some critics praised its realism and honesty, but the others strongly disliked it. They protested against the personality of Huck – a rough, dirty and disobedient boy. They could not agree that such a person should be the main character of a book. What's more, critics disliked the way Mark Twain used the language of a common, uneducated person to tell the story; no writer had ever done that before.
Today there is no longer any debate about the importance of ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ in American literature. In 1935 Ernest Hemingway wrote: "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called 'Huckleberry Finn.' There was nothing before. And there has been nothing as good since."
No wonder then that the novel ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ was a great inspiration for film producers – more than 20 screen versions of the book have been shot not only in America, but also in Europe, Russia and Japan. There are feature films, musicals, cartoons and even Japanese anime.