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Mark Twain

Samuel Langhorne Clemens popularly known by his pen name Mark Twain was born on 30th November 1835 in Florida. He was the sixth born of Jane Lampton Clemens and John Marshall. At the time, his parents were not aware that one day he would become Americans most famous literary icon. Just after four years after his birth, his family relocated to the town of Hannibal. Hannibal was a fast-growing port city that lied along the banks of Mississippi and a frequent hub for steamboats arriving by both night and day from New Orleans and St. Louis.

After working with a printer as an apprenticeship, he joined his older brother’s (Orion Clemens) in his newspaper where he contributed articles as a typesetter. Before heading west in Nevada to join Orion, he became riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River. Also, he spent time as a miner but he was never successful in the sector thus turning to journalism.

Early life of Mark Twain

Twain was the sixth born in a family of seven children, but only three of his siblings made it past childhood. At an age of eleven years, his father, by then a judge and an attorney, died of pneumonia. The following year, Twain dropped out of school to become a printer’s apprentice. He worked as a typesetter and contributed numerous humorous sketches and articles for the Hannibal Journal that was owned by Orion. At an age of 18 years, he left Hannibal for New York to work as a printer. He joined the then newly formed printers union (typographical international union) and during his free time especially in the evening educated himself in public libraries, where he sourced wider information as compared to conventional school. Steamboat pilot Horace took on the task to teach Twain how to navigate the Mississippi River. Twain studied the Mississippi, learning how to navigate its currents effectively, its landmarks, how to understand the river and its constantly shifting reefs, channels, submerged rocks and snags that would destroy even the strongest floating vessel.

Mark Twain travels

In 1861, Orion became secretary to the governor of Nevada Territory and Orion joined him. They both headed to the West. Orion and Twain travelled for more than two weeks on the stagecoach across the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains, visiting the Mormon community in Salt Lake City. Twain’s journey was terminated after settling as a miner in the silver-mining town of Virginia City, Nevada. But Twain never succeeded in mining and later joined the Virginia City newspaper, the Territorial Enterprise.

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