When someone say the name “Samuel Clemens,” most people automatically think of Mark Twain. Others don’t even know who Samuel Clemens is, but if someone says “Mark Twain,” they know who he is. Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He’s known for his novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Every time I think of Samuel Clemens, I always ask myself the same question. Why would Samuel Clemens change his name to Mark Twain? Where did this name even come from? What does it even mean?
While searching for the answer, I found out that Samuel Clemens was born in a small village in Florida, Missouri. Before became well-known as a writer, he had a variety of odd jobs. One of them included piloting a steamboat down the Mississippi River. He was licensed as a steamboat pilot in 1859 and worked on the river until fighting there during the Civil War ended traffic traveling from the north to south. His experiences along the river helped him come up with his “new name”.
In 1863, when Clemens was 27, he wrote a humorous travel story and decided to sign his name as “Mark Twain”. This name came from something shouted by crewmen on a boat. To test the depth of the water, a crewmen shouts “mark twain”. When this is yelled, the crewmen is calling for two fathoms, or a depth of 12 feet, which indicated safe water. “Twain” is an old-fashioned way of saying “two” and a fathom is six feet.
So to answer the question, Samuel Clemens changed his name to Mark Twain because of his love of being a steamboat pilot. It became a pen name used for his works, used the same way as people in the show business have a stage name.