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The style & technique of MARK TWAIN

Tony Rossiter looks at two iconic books of American literature

Commonly referred to as ‘the father of American literature’, Mark Twain (real name Samuel Langhorne Clemens) was a humorist, chronicler of American life, short-story writer, novelist, entrepreneur, publisher and a lecturer who became well-known for his humorous talks (perhaps not unlike today’s stand-up comedy). Here I’ll focus on his two famous novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) which has often been suppressed in American schools, but is regarded by many critics as ‘the great American novel’.

How he began

Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in 1835. The third of four children, he spent his childhood in Hannibal, Missouri, a port town on the Mississippi River that inspired the fictional town of St Petersburg in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. He left school at the age of twelve and served an apprenticeship as a printer, educating himself in public libraries in the evenings. He then worked as a typesetter, at the same time contributing articles and humorous sketches to the newspaper owned by his elder brother.

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EXCLUSIVE this month, with your Writing Magazine: How to Perfect Your Submission - Tips from a Publisher Publisher, author and consultant Scott Pack offers a definitive guide to the publishing package and everything you need to include to give your manuscript submission its best chance of success. AND In this month's main magazine: Check out the latest competitions and opportunities to get published in this month's Writers' News – there's £48,800 in writing prizes to be won and over 40 opportunities to get published. Author advice • We explore ways of getting your writing to new readers, with details of how to run a memorable author event, and how to approach schools to set up school visits. • Should you be happy with a small boutique agency or hold out for a big hitter? • Will your young editor understand your older characters? • The value of listening to your characters Industry insight • Innovative publisher Clare Christian considers whether publishing needs a new business model. • Womag writers are up in arms at new rights terms from Woman’s Weekly. We explain the controversial new terms and their impact. • Why are author incomes falling? Agent Piers Blofeld calls publishers to account. • Where the weird world’s at – explore the fantasy publishing landscape. Interviews and profiles with authors of all levels, including: • Star interview with gangland crime bestseller Jessie Keane, talking about the no-holds-barred approach that makes her Queen of the Underworld. • Chick-lit bestseller Carole Matthews charts her writing day and recalls how she got her first break in Writing Magazine! • Explore the life and career of the father of modern bestsellers – Mark Twain • Novelist Kerry Fisher explains how she straddles the worlds of feelgood fiction and domestic noir