9 Interesting Facts About Mark Twain | Fun And Fascinating Trivia

Interesting Facts About Mark Twain

Whether you’re a writer and want to see the place that inspired stories about the famous Huck Finn or you want to brush up on your Mark Twain trivia before visiting the famous writer’s hometown, we’ve got you covered with the best fun facts about Mark Twain.

Make The Most Of Your Trip To Hannibal

One of the most exciting ways to tour the hometown of one of the best writers in American history is to climb aboard one of our Mark Twain Riverboat tours to learn all about the author and this magical town. We have sightseeing tours up the Mississippi River and offer dinner cruises with a two-entree buffet-style meal to enjoy on the water.

Don’t forget to reach out to book your tour in advance to make sure we have space for you during your preferred visit.

We’ll give you a peek into Twain’s childhood and share interesting facts about his career you may have never heard. Stick around to gather all our favorite fun facts about Mark Twain before your vacation to Hannibal.

1) What Is Mark Twain’s Real Name?

Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in 1835 to parents John Marshall Clemens and Jane Lampton Clemens. It wouldn’t be for many, many years until Samuel would take up the pen name Mark Twain.

2) What Kind Of Education Did Mark Twain Have?

While his many literary masterpieces might lead you to assume Mark Twain is a college scholar, he actually didn’t receive much of a formal education as a young boy. One of the most interesting facts about Mark Twain is that he had to leave school to help support his family after the death of his father.

After Mark Twain dropped out of school, he began working at the Hannibal Journal, where his writing career would find its start. Mark Twain took it upon himself to become a self-educator because he had a fascination for learning but could no longer get his education from the schoolhouse. He was known to spend hours every evening in the library pouring himself into books.

3) Huckleberry Finn Was Based On Mark Twain’s Real Friend

Growing up in Hannibal gave Samuel Clemens lots of inspiration for his future works, but one of the most famous inspirations lies within the well-known character Huckleberry Finn. Though Huckleberry Finn is a fictional person, his appearance, demeanor, and lifestyle reflect almost exactly Mr. Twain’s dear childhood friend Tom Blankenship.

Huckleberry Finn first appeared with Tom Sawyer in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and lived on in his novel with the beloved runaway slave Jim. Huck Finn’s book, though wildly regarded as a pivotal work in American literature, has had a lot of trouble with bans throughout the years due to its coarse and sometimes racist content.

4) Mark Twain Had Famous Friends

If you know anything about the life of Mark Twain, then you’re probably familiar with the fact that he loved science and experiments! In fact, one of his dear friends was Thomas Edison. Thomas Edison once traveled to visit Twain at his estate in Redding and captured the first and only known film to include the image of Mark Twain.

5) Was Mark Twain Always A Writer?

Mr. Twain had many career hats throughout his life, but one that thrilled him most was his position on the water as a steamboat pilot. In 1857 he started as an apprentice steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River and soon recruited his younger brother to work on the vessel as well.

Tragedy struck one day as Mark Twain’s brother Henry died from an explosion on the steamboat. Twain continued until he got his license in 1859 and piloted until the breakout of the Civil War.

6) Did Mark Twain Ever Use A Different Pen Name?

It can take an author a long time to settle on a pen name that works for their persona and career. Before Samuel Clemens landed on the now-famous pen name, he tried out some unusual pseudonyms like, Epaminondas Adrastus Blab and Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass.

7) How Did The Official Birth Of The Name Mark Twain Come About?

Samuel tried everything to become rich and comfortable, but when his latest endeavors fell through again, he decided to try his hand at becoming a reporter for Virginia City. It wouldn’t be long in this position that he would land on the pen name Mark Twain for his upcoming works.

8) What Was One Of His First Famous Works?

While in San Francisco, Twain’s friend from New York asked him to collaborate on a whimsical book. Having remembered a funny story about a jumping frog, Mark quickly went to work on a story he called “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog.”

Sadly, the story wouldn’t be completed until after the collaboration had already been published, but the publishers loved the story so much that they ran it in the New York Saturday Press. Readers loved the story so much that it was reprinted and renamed “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”

9) How Many Books Did Mark Twain Write?

Mark Twain is affectionately referred to as the Father of American literature for his more than two dozen novels written throughout his lifetime. Some of the most famous characters in literature have been birthed from his works, including the infamous Tom Sawyer and his ragtag friend Huck from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Enjoy A Relaxing Ride Where Famous Characters Were Born

Our Mark Twain Riverboat tours are truly one of the best ways to experience Hannibal if you want to see the place where Mark Twain grew up.

Hop aboard one of our cruise options to enjoy sightseeing or dining with live entertainment on the mighty Mississippi.

Just visit the site to schedule your tour in advance!

1 hour
Group Size
no limit

Sightseeing Tour

This one-hour sightseeing cruise travels along the mighty Mississippi River, allowing you to soak up the scenery at a relaxing, rhythmic pace. Listen as the captain guides your cruise with historical commentary on the history, legends, and sights of the Mississippi River.

A cruise aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat is great for family events. Whether you are a visitor or resident of Hannibal, you can make wonderful memories aboard our unique riverboat experience! Looking forward to having you onboard!

Departure time: Varies - check calendar
Yearly availability: April 1 - Nov. 4
Weekly availability: Daily

2 hours
Group Size
no limit

Dinner Cruise

Enjoy a night of dinner and dancing on this cruise on the Mighty Mississippi. Indulge in a delicious buffet and share a wonderful dinner with your family or friends, then enjoy live music from the dance floor or the deck.

Once on board, you are escorted to your table, then you are free to roam the boat until the captain announces that dinner is ready. After dinner, you are free to dance or sit back and enjoy the music. Live entertainment is included on our Dinner Cruises. It may be The Rivermen playing modern jazz (Saturday night from Memorial Day thru September), or you might get to enjoy the music of Tim Hart (Mondays & Tuesdays), or Adam Ledbetter and David Damm (Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday). Listen or dance to their favorite tunes — and they have been known to take a request or two. And you never know when a crew member or two may step up on the stage and join in.

Departure time: 6:30 p.m.
Yearly availability: May 3 - Oct 28
Weekly availability: Varies - check calendar