5 Fun Facts About Mark Twain

By Grace Taylor
1870: American writer Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain (1835 - 1910). (Photo by Rischgitz/Getty Images)

That Wasn't Really His Name

Born in Missouri on November 30, 1835, the young Samuel Langhorne Clemens was a great lover of science and literature, but despite his passions, he never did well in school. His formal education ended in the fifth grade when his father, a judge, died of pneumonia and Clemens took an apprenticeship at the local newspaper to provide for his family.

Even as he worked as a miner and steamboat pilot, though, Clemens continued visiting libraries and reading voraciously. When he eventually became a journalist, Clemens decided to take up the moniker of a writer who had died in 1869. Mark Twain, as he became known, was notably an old-fashioned way of saying the water was deep enough for a boat to travel safely through.