Mark Twain is a Pen Name fact

Mark Twain Pen Name

What Was Mark Twain’s Real Name?

Mark Twain is a pen name, his real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens. “Mark” “Twain” is a riverboat term for measuring two fathoms (12 feet): mark (measure) twain (two). This can be explained by understanding that Clemens was a riverboat operator on the Mississippi before his writing career.[1]

Why Did Sam Clemens (Mark Twain) use a Pen Name?

Mark Twain used a pen name for the same reason most do; it’s a long-held popular practice for writers to publish under pseudonyms. “Mark Twain” sounds cool and invokes mid-1800’s Americana. It’s hard to argue it wasn’t a good move given he was one of the most popular American writers of all time.

Where Did Mark Twain Get his Pen Name?

Twain worked as a pre-Civil War era riverboat (steamboat) operator on the Mississippi River before he became a writer. He worked the river from 1859 until the Civil War ended the North/South traffic in 1861.[2]

River boats used ropes with marks for each fathom on them to gauge the depth of the water below the boat when navigating in shallow water, such as on rivers. Mark twain was the second mark on the rope, and indicated water which was deep enough for navigation. “Mark Twain” is a riverboat term for measuring two fathoms (12 feet) in depth: mark (measure) twain (two).[3]

IMAX: Mark Twain’s America.

TIP: Samuel Clemens grew up in Hannibal Missouri, he lived there until the Civil War. At the start of hostilities, Twain enlisted in a local Confederate unit for about two weeks until he left for Nevada. (See Mark Twain’s Roughing It (read online). Twain later moved to the North East settling in turn in Buffalo New York and Hartford Connecticut. After the war, he was affiliated with Yale and wrote his most famous works like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (read online)which drew from his youth in the south, his travels around America, and his new North Eastern estate.

TIP: Mark Twain wrote the book that gave the Gilded Age its name, The Gilded Age (read online). Twain is a classic American author. I strongly urge you to at least look at the pictures, they are made by the same guy who created the Republican Elephant logo Thomas Nast (the book is insightful, but the images are clearly a nod to the history of liberalism and affects of capitalism on the North and South).

Article Citations
  1. Mark Twain – Early Life
  2. Samuel Clemens, alias Mark Twain
  3. “Frequently Asked Questions”

Mark Twain is a pen name, his real name was Sam Clemens.

Author: Thomas DeMichele

Thomas DeMichele is the content creator behind,,, and other and Massive Dog properties. He also contributes to MakerDAO and other cryptocurrency-based projects. Tom's focus in all...

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