In 1859, the man who would become known as the Jewish Mark Twain was born Solomon Rabinovich near Kiev in what was then the Russia pale, a zone set aside for second-class Jews. In his shtetl, young Solomon was relatively prosperous and educated, and after he eloped with the daughter of a Russian landowner, he inherited enough money to invest in schemes. One was a literary journal in Yiddish, the folkloric language in which poor Jews communicated.
Under the pen-name Sholem Aleichem (the Yiddish equivalent of "Hello, how are you?"), he wrote hundreds of stories about Russian Jews, who yearned for a better life in a rapidly changing world. Like his creation Tevye the Milkman, Rabinowich had many daughters and was caught between the rural past and an urban revolutionary future.