Mark Twain wore numerous hats throughout his life: author, riverboat pilot, global traveler, and Freemason. While Twain is most known for his work, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, he also lived a Masonic lifestyle, which impacted much of his writing. Continue reading our profile on Mark Twain to obtain a better understanding of his life as an author and “The Father of American Literature.”
Samual Langhorne Clemens, or more generally known by his pen name Mark Twain, is one of the finest American writers to date. He was one of six children born on November 30th, 1835 in Florida, Missouri. Twain was born two months prematurely and suffered from terrible health for the majority of his youth.
His early experiences as a sick child in Hannibal, Missouri inspired the imaginary town of St. Petersburg and the character Tom Sawyer in his novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain first became acquainted with literature while working as an apprentice to a neighborhood printer. Twain began working at the Hannibal Journal, a weekly newspaper owned by his older brother Orion, in 1850, at the age of 15. While his primary function was as a typesetter, he occasionally contributed sketches to the publication and filled in as editor when his brother was away.
In 1857, he relocated to New Orleans and began working as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River. Twain continued to write humorous pieces on his life as a riverboat pilot for local newspapers. When the Civil War began, Twain returned to Hannibal for a two-week stint as a soldier before relocating to Nevada and attempting his hand at mining. His mining abilities were discovered to be subpar, and he reverted to his passion for writing and journalism. Twain traveled from state to state in his early years travelling the country and trying his hand at many jobs, it wasn’t until he aged 37 that he discovered he was a “literary person.”
The Literary Career of Mark Twain
Mark Twain was an author who wrote over twenty novels and scores of short stories, essays, and lectures. Twain, best known for his classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, mastered the art of balancing humour and satire with somber, thought-provoking prose.
Huckleberry Finn was published in the United States in February 1885 and is frequently referred to as “The Great American Novel.” This novel is required reading in a large number of American schools and serves as a model for American literature. It’s also necessary to recognize that, while The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was a groundbreaking work, it remains highly contentious due to Mark Twain’s use of racial slurs. The usage of such obscene language is inconsistent with Masonic ideals.
He is also recognized for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and the Pauper, and The Mysterious Stranger, in addition to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Mark Twain’s ability extended much beyond his career as a novelist and into his years as a Freemason. Brother Twain was initiated as an Entered Apprentice at Polar Star Lodge on February 18th, 1861.
During his time at Polar Star Lodge, he was among a number of other riverboat pilots. Twain traveled to the Nevada Territory to join his brother Orion after being raised to Master Mason. Unfortunately, this move resulted in a temporary suspension of membership, but evidence indicates that he was interested in visiting other Masonic lodges during his time out west.
Twain swiftly petitioned for reinstatement to his home lodge of Polar Star upon his return from the Nevada Territory. Twain embarked on a world lecture tour in the late 1890s, visiting Australia, India, Canada, and several other nations. While traveling, Twain frequently discovered Masonic ties to the countries he visited. He was particularly taken with Lebanon’s connection to the Craft and donated a hand-crafted gavel to Polar Star Lodge’s Worshipful Master.
Twain made numerous references to Freemasonry in his writings and referred to God using the Masonic term, “great Architect of the Universe.” Mark Twain’s commitment to literature, exploration, and Freemasonry inspires everyone. Numerous others have referred to him as the “Father of American Literature,” and we are pleased to name him a Brother!
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