M is for Mark Twain
Mark Twain is one of the United States most important writers. He was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835 to John Marshall and Jane Lampton in Florida, Missouri. Missouri was a relatively new state as it had gained statehood in 1821. Samuel's family moved to the small frontier town of Hannibal when he was four years old. His father was a judge and in 1844 he built a two story home for his family.
Samuel Clemens was very ill in his early childhood and thus spent much of his youth indoors. His health improved greatly and by age nine he started to play outside. He was sent to a private school in Hannibal. During the summers, Samuel would spent most of his time playing in the slave quarters on his uncle's farm. His father had owned one slave while his uncle had many. It was here that he listened to slaves' tall tales and spiritual stories. He would carry a deep admiration for those stories his entire life.
Samuel's father died of pneumonia when Samuel was twelve years old. A year later, Samuel left school to become an printer's apprentice for his brother's newspaper. He worked as a printer and editorial assistant. Samuel soon realized that he loved to write. Samuel left his brother's newspaper to take up a printer's position in Saint Louis when he was seventeen years old. A year later he headed east to New York and Philadelphia‚ where he found success writing articles for newspapers. In 1857, he left his new found writing career and returned home to Missouri where he entered into apprenticeship as a river boat pilot. A year later, he earned his river boat pilot license and worked as river boat pilot. Samuel changed his name to Mark Twain while he was a river boat captain. Mark Twain is a river term meaning the river is safe to navigate.