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Few authors can boast of having duplicated their own lives in the lives of their characters as truly and uproariously as did Mark Twain. For Mark Twain did not just imagine the exploits of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer; he got into many of the very same scrapes himself when he was young Sam Clemens in Hannibal, Missouri.
Like Tom and Huck, Sam used every imaginable dodge to stay away from school and he loved nothing better than to sit fishing on the banks of the Mississippi and watch the river boats go by. Sam liked to make up different names for himself and, as he heard the leadsman on the Big Missouri yell "Mark twain!" he thought that would make a good name for someone some day.
His father died when Sam was twelve and the Clemens family was so poor that he had to stop school and go to work. It was while he was a printer's devil on the Missouri Courier that he suddenly discovered the exciting world of books and from then on he read everything he could with the boundless enthusiasm that marked all his ventures. And, although he became an experienced river pilot and worked for a time mining silver in Nevada, it was writing that he finally took up seriously—if it could be said that he ever took anything wholly seriously —and it was writing that won him world-wide fame and affection.
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