Today in history: The legendary Mark Twain is born

June 25, 2015

On this very day in 1835, Mark Twin (aka Samuel Clemens) was born in Florida, Missouri. 

Clemens was apprenticed to a printer at age 13 and later worked for his older brother, who established the Hannibal Journal. In 1857, the Keokuk Daily Post commissioned him to write a series of comic travel letters, but after writing five he decided to become a steamboat captain instead. He signed on as a pilot’s apprentice in 1857 and received his pilot’s license in 1859, when he was 23.

Clemens piloted boats for two years, until the Civil War halted steamboat traffic. When Clemens returned to writing in 1861, he wrote a humorous travel letter signed by “Mark Twain” and continued to use the pseudonym for nearly 50 years.

In 1864, he moved to San Francisco to work as a reporter. There, he wrote the story that made him famous: The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.

Click here to view Mark Twain’s Footprint

He then began traveling the world, writing accounts for papers in California and New York, which he later published the popular book The Innocents Abroad (1869).  In 1875, his most popular novel Tom Sawyer was published, followed by another masterpiece shortly after named Huckleberry Finn (1885).

In 1903, Clemens and his family moved to Italy, where his wife died.  Her death left him sad and bitter, and his work, while still humorous, grew distinctly darker.  Mr. Clemens finally said goodbye in to the world in 1910.

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