2011 44¢ Mark Twain
Issue Date: June 25, 2011
City: Hannibal, MO
Printed By: Avery Dennison
Printing Method: Photogravure
Samuel Clemens’ family moved to the banks of the mighty Mississippi River when he was just a child. Clemens (1835-1910) developed a love for the river that would stay with him his entire life.
As a young man, Clemens met a steamboat pilot named Horace Bixby. That’s when he decided to learn the craft, becoming one of the best pilots on the river.
As an author, Clemens took his pen name from his experiences on the water. The Mississippi River is difficult to navigate. To “mark twain” meant the water had been measured and was a safe depth. In 1863, Clemens began writing as Mark Twain.
If it had not been for the Civil War, Twain may have remained a pilot who occasionally wrote newspaper articles. But most business travel stopped along the Mississippi during these years, so Twain went back to writing. His humorous stories of life on the river were a hit with readers then and remain popular today.
In 2010, the first volume of Twain’s autobiography was published. It was his wish that it not be released until 100 years after his death so that he might speak his “whole frank mind.” The volume offers a glimpse into the real Samuel Clemens – a man with strong political and social views who nevertheless entertained millions with riveting tales of life on the Mississippi.