Mark Twain, pseudonym of Samuel L. Clemens (1835–1910), was born in Florida, Missouri, and grew up in Hannibal on the west bank of the Mississippi River. He attended school briefly and then at age thirteen became a full-time apprentice to a local printer. When his older brother Orion established the Hannibal Journal, Samuel became a compositor for that paper and then, for a time, an itinerant printer. With a commission to write comic travel letters, he traveled down the Mississippi. Smitten with the riverboat life, he signed on as an apprentice to a steamboat pilot. After 1859, he became a licensed pilot, but two years later the Civil War put an end to the steam-boat traffic.
In 1861, he and his brother traveled to the Nevada Territory where Samuel became a writer for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, and there, on February 3, 1863, he signed a humorous account with the pseudonym Mark Twain. The name was a river man’s term for water “two fathoms deep” and thus just barely safe for navigation.
In 1870 Twain married and moved with his wife to Hartford, Connecticut. He became a highly successful lecturer in the United States and England, and he continued to write.