Mark Twain was born Samuel L. Clemens in Florida, Missouri on November 30, 1835. He worked as a printer for a time, and then became a steamboat pilot. He traveled in the West, writing humorous sketches for newspapers. In 1865, he wrote the short story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, which was very well received. He then began a career as a humorous travel writer and lecturer, publishing The Innocents Abroad in 1869, Roughing It in 1872, and, co-authored with Charles Dudley Warner, Gilded Age in 1873. His best-known works are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Mississippi Writing: Life on the Mississippi (1883), and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). He died of a heart attack on April 21, 1910.
A professor of English literature and American studies who has published numerous critical works, Malcolm Bradbury is also a novelist whose protagonists are academics who make muddles of their personal and professional lives. He maintains that his main concern is to explore problems and dilemmas of liberalism and issues of moral responsibility. The targets of Bradbury's satires include intellectual pretension, cultural myopia, and official smugness. His protagonists are largely sympathetic, if comic, failures at mastering their own fates in a world of absurd rules and regulations. His major novels include Eating People Is Wrong (1959), Stepping Westward (1965), and The History Man (1975). This last, a novel of intellectual and political conflict at an English university in the late 1960s, was made into a successful television minidrama. More recent novels include Rates of Exchange (1983) and Cuts (1987).