Mark Twain’s Birthday

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” ~Mark Twain

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. His wit and satire, in both prose and in speech, earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty. He wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, often called “The Great American Novel.”

Samuel L. Clemens was born on November 30, 1835, and he died on April 21, 1910. Both of these were years in which Halley’s Comet passed by the Earth. Clemens said, “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year… The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.'”

By the age of 9, young Samuel “had learned a great number of things, many of them of a kind not taught at school.” [] At age 12, Clemens became a printer’s apprentice. He educated himself in public libraries in the evenings, finding wider information than at a conventional school. [Philip S. Foner, Mark Twain: Social Critic (New York: International Publishers, 1958), p. 13]

In 1851, at 15, he got a job as a printer at the Hannibal Western Union, a little newspaper owned by his brother, Orion. Then, in 1857, 21-year-old Clemens fulfilled a dream: he began learning the art of piloting a steamboat on the Mississippi. When the Civil War broke out, he served for a brief time in the Confederate Army before heading West.

Working for a newspaper in San Francisco, he adopted the pen name “Mark Twain”—steamboat slang for 12 feet of water. Twain got his big break in 1865, when one of his tales about life in a mining camp, “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” was printed in newspapers and magazines around the country. By age 34, Twain would become one of the most popular and famous writers in America.

Mark Twain House & Museum – Includes Mark Twain’s biography and information about his family, major works, pop culture influence, famous quotes, etc.

The Official Web Site of Mark Twain – Includes a biography, writings section, photographs, quotes, fast facts, downloads, web store, and more.

Mark Twain in His Times – An in-depth look at the writer, his works, and his impact on the literary world, produced by the University of Virginia Department of English.

PLAY Mark Twain’s Memory Builder Game – In 1885, Mark Twain designed and patented a game intended to help people keep historical facts straight. This game is based loosely on his, with some features borrowed from the Carmen San Diego series. The questions focus on Mark Twain and his times.

READ Mark Twain’s Books Online – An online collection of 25 books by Mark Twain, available in a variety of formats, from Project Gutenberg.

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.” ~Mark Twain

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