Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Mark Twain

Mark Twain was an American humorist, novelist, and travel writer. Today he is best remembered as the author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain is widely considered one of the greatest American writers of all time. His words have stood the test of time, as they proved both biting and prophetic, while his wisdom is timeless. Here are a few facts about him that you probably did not know:

  • Mark Twain wasn’t his real name. Instead, he was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in the town of Florida, Missouri.

  • Born prematurely, Twain was a fragile baby who almost didn’t survive and grew up sickly.

  • Samuel Clemens wasn’t the only child in his family to grow up with ill health, as he lost half of his siblings to a young death, and when he was 11, his father passed away from pneumonia.

  • Clemens wasn’t formally educated, but he still took his education very seriously, making sure to study at public libraries while he was growing up.

  • After his father died, Clemens decided to enter the workforce as an apprentice printer, and when he turned 18, he felt it was time to travel the country. He went to the big cities of New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis as a member of the printers trade union.

  • A young Samuel Clemens had a series of failed pen names before he finally settled on Mark Twain in 1863. Among these were W. Epaminondas Adrastus Blab and Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass.

  • Clemens got his pen name from these years training to be a steamboat pilot, as “mark twain” was the cry a leadsman would give whenever they came across a geological sound that was two fathoms deep and safe to travel in, so they could mark the “twain,” which meant two.

  • The first big literary hit of Twain’s career was “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” This story was written after Twain heard of a frog jumping competition while he was traveling. The tale was originally meant to be published in the book of a friend, but Twain didn’t finish the story in time. Instead, his friend sent the story over to the editor at The New York Saturday Press, where it found a home and widely acclaimed success.

  • The inspiration for the character of Huckleberry Finn came from real life, as Twain knew a kid by the name of Tom Blankenship growing up, and tried to portray him, faults and all, exactly as he remembered.

  • There are no more living relatives of Mark Twain.

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