Based on letters Twain wrote from Europe to newspapers in San Francisco and New York as a roving correspondent, THE INNOCENTS ABROAD (1869) is a burlesque of the sentimental travel books popular in the mid-nineteenth century. Twain's perspective was fresh and irreverent: tour guides, he writes, 'interrupt every dream, every pleasant train of thought, with their tiresome cackling' and the saints on the Cathedral of Notre Dame are 'battered and broken-nosed old fellows'. As unimpressed by American manners as he is by European attitudes, Twain concludes that 'human nature is very much the same all over the world'.
Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in 1835, Mark Twain spent his youth in Hannibal, Missouri, which forms the setting for his two greatest works, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Trying his hand at printing, typesetting and then gold-mining, the former steam-boat pilot eventually found his calling in journalism and travel writing. Dubbed 'the father of American literature' by William Faulkner, Twain died in 1910 after a colourful life of travelling, bankruptcy and great literary success.