Mark Twain was born on November 30th, 1835, when Halley's Comet shone in the night sky, and died April 21, 1910, during the return of the same comet. Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens and grew up in Hannibal, Missouri near the banks of the Mississippi River, a setting displayed prominently in his best works. Twain met a great deal of literary success during his lifetime, and is to this day regarded as one of the greatest North American writers of all time. He was highly popular as a literary humorist, but financial difficulties led to an increased pessimism in his later works. One of these works, "Those Extraordinary Twins", was intended to be a comical story about conjoined twins, based on Giovanni and Giacomo Tocci, who lived in 19th century Italy. As the work evolved from farce to tragedy, Twain reconsidered his initial plans, splitting the work into two tales, the first being "Pudd'nhead Wilson".

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