Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910)
"When angry count to four, when very angry, swear."
Born and raised in Missouri, Clemens began work as an apprentice printer at the age of 11. By 16, he was writing humorous articles and short sketches for the newspaper. At 18 he left Missouri and worked in some eastern cities at various newspapers, then returned to Missouri when he was 22 and worked as a riverboat pilot.
When the War Between the States began, he joined his brother in Nevada (who was serving as secretary to the territorial governor) and tried his hand at mining silver. He failed to strike it rich, and began working at another newspaper in Virginia City, Nevada.
Clemens is, of course, also known as Mark Twain, and was the author of several highly influential books such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I must say that his Tom Sawyer was a very great influence on me personally. It was almost the bible of my childhood. An aunt of mine gave it to me for Christmas when I was 6 years old. By the time I was 12, I had probably read it a dozen times.
Huckleberry Finn is still one of the most banned books in the United States, or at least, one of the books most attempted to be banned. Clemens was a master of accurately portraying colloquial speech; he was against slavery, and he wanted to portray slavery for the atrocity it was. His portrayals of speech during his time were perfect; he pulled no punches to show the injustice of racist attitudes. It is because of his writings that some people who don't actually read the book, or perhaps who just aren't paying attention or just need something new to scream about, attempt the ban the book itself as the writings of a racist. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Clemens was considered by some outrageous, an iconoclast and a curmudgeon. He was certainly the most famous and well-known celebrity of his day.
He was born, and he died, in the years of Halley's Comet.
As for his pipe smoking, I have read that he once remarked that he enjoyed cleaning his pipes, and that he usually cleaned them "with the last clean pipe firmly clenched in my teeth." He also enjoyed smoking cigars. The photo above shows him smoking a large and stately calabash.