Samuel Clemens used several pseudonyms during his long writing career. But, the author wrote his best-known works -- including such American classics as "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" -- under the pen name Mark Twain . Both books center on the adventures of these two boys, the namesakes for the novels, on the Mississippi River. Not surprisingly, Clemens adopted his pen name from his experiences piloting steamboats up and down the Mississippi.

"Twain" literally means "two." As a riverboat pilot, Clemens would have heard the term, "Mark Twain," which means "two fathoms," on a regular basis. According to the UC Berkeley Library, Clemens first used this pseudonym in 1863, when he was working as a newspaper reporter in Nevada -- long after his riverboat days.

The library notes that this ​term means the second mark on a line that measured depth, signifying two fathoms, or 12 feet, which was a safe depth for riverboats. Clemens became a riverboat "cub" -- or trainee -- in 1857. Two years later, he earned his full pilot's license. His piloting career was cut short when riverboat traffic ceased at the start of the Civil War in 1861.

Samuel Clemens used several pseudonyms during his long writing career. But, the author wrote his best-known works -- including such American classics as "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" -- under the pen name Mark Twain . Both books center on the adventures of these two boys, the namesakes for the novels, on the Mississippi River. Not surprisingly, Clemens adopted his pen name from his experiences piloting steamboats up and down the Mississippi.

"Twain" literally means "two." As a riverboat pilot, Clemens would have heard the term, "Mark Twain," which means "two fathoms," on a regular basis. According to the UC Berkeley Library, Clemens first used this pseudonym in 1863, when he was working as a newspaper reporter in Nevada -- long after his riverboat days.

The library notes that this ​term means the second mark on a line that measured depth, signifying two fathoms, or 12 feet, which was a safe depth for riverboats. Clemens became a riverboat "cub" -- or trainee -- in 1857. Two years later, he earned his full pilot's license. His piloting career was cut short when riverboat traffic ceased at the start of the Civil War in 1861.

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Posted by 2018 article

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