Mark Twain was the pen name of American writer, Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He was born in November 1835 just after an appearance of Halley’s Comet and died the day after the comet returned in 1910. He had various jobs (publisher, riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River, miner in California) before concentrating on story writing. His humorous writing and satire made him very popular with critics and public. His stories like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn were a great success an earned him lots of money. He unfortunately fell into financial problems because he lost his money in investments and became bankrupt.

One of his humorous stories, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras, brought him international success when it was published in 1865. It is set in Angels Camp California and tells the story of Jim Smiley a man who loves gambling. He bets on everything from horse races to dog fights. He catches a frog and trains him to jump, saying that he can jump further than any frog in Calaveras County. One day a stranger arrives in town and he challenges him to a frog jumping race. But the stranger tricks him and then runs away.

Illustration by Paolo D’Altan, taken from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain, Green Apple, Step One (CEFR A2).