Outdoor adventure Humor
November 30, 1835–April 21, 1910
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
A steamboatman turned writer, Missouri-born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, alias Mark Twain, worked as a printer's apprentice and typesetter before taking to the Mississippi River. He later worked for the government in Nevada, mined, and reported for a newspaper. Once established as a successful fiction writer and humorist, Twain traveled widely and lectured. He also wrote many volumes of travel books, essays, and correspondence, as well as journals, manuscripts, speeches, and autobiographical books.
Twain created two enduring, youthful, literary adventurers named Tom and Huck. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is set in a small Mississippi River town before the Civil War. Playful Tom, who with his serious brother, Sid, lives with Aunt Polly, quarrels with his sweetheart, Becky Thatcher, then runs off with rascally Huckleberry Finn on a nighttime adventure. They watch Injun Joe stab the town doctor. More adventures ensue; Tom and Huck hide on an island. They watch the town hold a funeral for them. After the two wanderers return to town, Tom and Becky become lost in a cave and stumble upon Injun Joe's hiding place. It is great rough-and-tumble fun for young readers. James D. Hart said that Tom Sawyer “is on the whole a keener realistic portrayal of regional character and frontier experience on the Mississippi.”