For Samuel Clemens, a comfortable childhood turned hardscrabble after his father’s death, but his mother, Jane Lampton—who loved the color red and hated housekeeping—made sure the family home was a place of fun. To help make ends meet, Samuel quit school in fifth grade to work as a printer’s apprentice, a job that sparked an interest in humor writing. He rechristened himself Mark Twain and became one of America’s most revered writers, the creator of beloved characters like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. “My mother had a great deal of trouble with me,” Twain wrote, “but I think she enjoyed it.”
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