Mark Twain was the pseudonym of Samuel L. Clemens, who was born in the tiny town of Florida, Missouri, in 1835. The family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, when Clemens was four. His father died when he was 12, and he was apprenticed to a printer at the Hannibal Courier. He left home early and made his living as a typesetter in various towns in the Midwest and New York and then worked on a riverboat on the Mississippi. He served for two weeks during the Civil War in the Missouri militia before he and his whole company deserted. He went West and worked as a prospector and a journalist in the Nevada Territory and California. In 1867, he moved to the Northeast and began traveling in Europe and Palestine. His literary career began in earnest with The Innocents Abroad in 1868. He wrote many successful novels during the next two decades, including Tom Sawyer (1876) and Huckleberry Finn (1884).
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court met with mixed reviews when it was published in 1889. The British especially took offense at the novel, feeling that it maligned their history and culture and disgraced the ideals of King Arthur and his Round Table. Others hailed it as a triumph, full of genuine insight and sensitivity to social injustices throughout the ages. Many critics call attention to the cynical ending as evidence of Twain's own disenchantment with the promises of technology and progress as a result of his financial hardships, particularly the failure of an automatic typesetting machine in which he had invested. His later works share this tone of disillusionment. He died in 1910, survived by only one of his four children.