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Biographies Unit Biographies

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) 1835–1910

Mark Twain is one of America's best-loved writers. He was born Samuel Clemens in Hannibal, Missouri. He went to school until he was 13 years old and then took his first job. At 17, Clemens published his first piece of writing. He went on to write many books, stories, and articles.

Clemens liked adventure. He traveled and worked at different jobs. New places and people gave him ideas for his writing. For a while he was a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River. On a riverboat, the cry “mark twain!” meant that the river was 12 feet deep. Clemens decided that “Mark Twain” would be the name he would use when he wrote.

Twain finally settled in Connecticut but still traveled often. He became the most famous writer in the United States. His writing captured both the funny and the serious sides of American life. His greatest book, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, has been read by millions of people the world over. It is still popular today.

Comprehension Check

Where did Clemens get the idea for the name “Mark Twain”?

Critical Thinking

Why do you think people still read Mark Twain's books today?