"I like a thin book because it will steady a table,
a leather volume because it will strop a razor,
and a heavy book because it can be thrown at a cat."
Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri. He was apprenticed to a printer at the age of 13 and later worked for his older brother Orion, who established a local newspaper, the Hannibal Journal.
In 1857 he was commissioned to write a series of comic travel letters but gave up after writing five letters to become a steamboat captain instead. He received his pilot's license at the age of 23. He piloted boats for two years until the Civil War brought a temporary halt to steamboat traffic.
After volunteering in the Confederate army for a few months, in 1861 he began working for the 'Territorial Enterprise' in Virginia City. He wrote a humorous travel letter and signed it Mark Twain (mark twain is a boatman's call indicating that the water is only two fathoms deep, which is the minimum for safe navigation); he continued to use this pseudonym for the next 50 years.
In 1864 he took a job as a reporter in San Francisco and wrote the book that first made him famous, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. From then on he traveled the world writing accounts of his travels for newspapers on both coasts. He died in April 1910.
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