Mark Twain Author Study
Mark Twain, also known as Samuel Clemens, was born on November 30, 1935. Use these lessons and resources to study his life and his influential works.
- Grades: 6–8, 9–12
Mark Twain was the pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He was born in Florida, Missouri on November 30, 1835, and died April 21, 1910. Twain achieved worldwide fame during his lifetime as an author, lecturer, satirist, and humorist. Since his death, his literary stature has further increased. Writers as Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner declared his works — particularly Huckleberry Finn — a major influence on 20th-century American fiction. Read Mark Twain's full biography.
Resources From Around the Web
Visit the Mark Twain Museum Boyhood Home and Museum website for additional lesson plans and resources. The Museum is now focusing on the Common Core State Standards and has created a unit plan using Mark Twain: Words & Music as a model for addressing these standards through integrated curriculum.
The Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College is one of the leading Centers for Mark Twain research in the world.
The Morgan Library & Museum online exhibition, in partnership with The New York Public Library, presents the iconic author's manuscripts, letters, drawings, books, original illustrations for his books, and posed and candid photographs.
One of Mark Twain's most popular novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) captures the spirit of boyhood as it was experienced in a small Mississippi River town in mid-19th-century Missouri. Being out of favor with his Aunt Polly and his sweetheart Becky Thatcher, Tom is plunged into a series of adventures, which begin in a graveyard when he and Huck Finn witness a murder committed by the half-breed Injun Joe. They continue through the boys' escape to a nearby island, their attendance at their own funeral when the townspeople believe them dead, Tom's crucial testimony at the murder trial of an innocent man, his reconciliation with his aunt, and Tom and Becky's disappearance in a cave in which Injun Joe is lurking. Tom Sawyer inspired three sequels, of which Huckleberry Finn alone is of major significance. From the article "Tom Sawyer" in the Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia.
Sometimes called the first modern American novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) by Mark Twain may be read on several levels. On the surface it is a picaresque novel in which young Huck Finn relates his adventures as he travels down the Mississippi River on a raft with a runaway slave named Jim. On another level it is a satire of society and the constraints of civilization, which both Huck and Jim are attempting to escape. Symbolically, Huckleberry Finn becomes a study of nature's indifference; the river, like society, is sometimes benevolent, sometimes malicious, and always capricious. A significant aspect of the book is Twain's masterly use of dialect. From the article "Huckleberry Finn" in the Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia.
The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy) by Barbara Kerley is a humorous and intimate picture book biography of the most celebrated writer in America, as told by his thirteen-year-old daughter.
Get Mark Twain's list of books from the Book Wizard.
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Many of the heroes in current teen movies are modeled after classic characters like Tom Sawyer, and it's through a novel study that students can analyze the way humor was presented to an audience long ago like it's presented to them today. The murder trial is a super event that keeps the plot going. My students love this part of the story! Some even enjoy the romantic bantering between Tom and Becky as this is becoming more relevant to them as well.