Like his character Huck Finn, Mark Twain (born Samuel Langhorne Clemens) grew up in
Missouri near the Mississippi River. As an adult, he was a steamboat pilot, a Confederate
soldier, and a prospector. After failing to find gold, he launched a new career as a humorist
with short newpaper pieces and witty public lectures. Twain then published humorous stories
and novels that incorporated American colloquial speech and satirized human failings. His
works instantly became popular and remain popular today.