When we think of Mark Twain, we picture tousled white hair framing a mustached face. We think of American heroes like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. We think of a man who worked as a riverboat captain on the Mississippi, a journalist who freely spoke his mind, and a traveler who sought life’s experiences in every corner of the globe.
Mark Twain started life as Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida on November 30, 1835.
In 1839 his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri. When Samuel was 12 his father died and he began his career as a printer’s apprentice. A few years later he went to work for his brother, also a printer, and soon published his first work. On January 16, 1851 his one paragraph article “A Gallant Fireman” appeared in Hannibal’s Western Union and soon he became a regular newspaper contributor, adding the “Buffalo Express” and “The Galaxy” to his credits.
It was the success of his second book, Innocents Abroad, that launched his literary career, and as a result he penned over 40 books and pamphlets in his lifetime, including the classics The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Samuel Clemens died in 1910—his death was front page news throughout the country. People everywhere mourned the passing of the most well-known American of the nineteenth century.