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Published:November 30th, 2006 06:02 EST
Born To Write

Born To Write

By Krzys Wasilewski

If you want your kid to be a famous writer, November 30 may be the best date for a future Pulitzer Prize winner to be born.

It was November 30, 1835 when Samuel Clemens, more widely known as Mark Twain, was born. He began his affair with journalism very early, at 13, first working as a printer`s helper and later writing short articles for his brother`s newspaper, Hannibal Journal. The steady life of a province reporter ceased to attract Clemens the moment he had discovered the world of steamboats. It was love at first sight. Newspapers interested him no more; what consumed his entire time was the Mississippi River and the urging dream of becoming a steamboat pilot. At the time, the pilots` earnings could only be compared to those of the U.S. President`s, except the job offered a more adventurous life than the warm desk in the White House. This affection lasted six years, until the Civil War broke out and the traffic on the river was terminated. The conflict caught Clemens torn between the patriotism for the south where he was born and his deep belief that all men were equal. Unsurprisingly, he tried to stray from the warfare, engaging himself in various activities across the country. Before he became an acclaimed writer, he had served as a Confederate militiaman for two weeks, advised a Nevada governor, tried his luck as a silver miner and traveled across Europe. All of the episodes were later described with a great wit and charm in a number of Clemens` books.

Samuel Clemens became Mark Twain on February 3, 1863, when he used the pseudonym for the first time, writing his humorous column for the Daily Territorial Enterprise. Although his prolific pen produced over 30 books --both fiction and non-fiction, he won the hearts and souls of millions of people with two works: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The two boys who, like Twain himself, struggled since a young age, and whose good hearts usually won over their minds, have become idols for many generations of young people.

Mark Twain died on April 21, 1910. One year before he passed away, he sarcastically remarked: I came in with Halley`s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don`t go out with Halley`s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: `Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.` "

November 30 is also the birthday of Sir Winston Churchill, Great Britain`s three-time prime minister and writer. He came from a respected aristocratic family with great traditions in serving the nation- " both his grandfather and father had gained popularity as ministers in various governments. However, the highest posts had been always denied them, due to their feverish temperament and inability to cooperate with others. Nothing else was with young Winston whose impatient character gained him a label of a loony and sent him to India, South Africa (where a bullet narrowly missed his head) and Uganda; not to mention the numerous trips to the United States and Europe. With a surprising ease he combined the professions of a journalist and politician: when he wasn`t reporting from war-crippled South Africa, he was delivering a speech in the parliament. But it was not until the Second World War that all his talents had been fully discovered. He led his nation through all the miseries of this most horrific of wars, turning Great Britain into a solid beacon of freedom and democracy amidst the rough seas of terror. No one could induce the British to remain calm and strong the way Churchill did; his famous quote from the time was: We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender. " And surrender they did not.

The war over, he gave up big politics in order to devote all his energy to the writing down of his memoirs which won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. Two years earlier, in Fulton, Missouri Churchill performed his famous speech where the term Iron Curtain " was used for the first time: From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain has descended across the continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere.

Sir Winston Churchill died on January 24, 1965. His funeral was attended by hundreds of thousands of ordinary people and representatives from over 100 countries, the French President Charles de Gaulle among them. Only the funeral of Pope John Paul II, 40 years later, attracted a bigger audience.

Other famous men and women of pen who were born on November 30 are: Jonathan Swift, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Daniel Keys Moran and Gordon Parks.