Mark Twain’s 176th Birthday

Today’s Google Doodle marks the 176th birthday of Mark Twain, one of America’s most famous and beloved authors. Mark Twain was born in Missouri in 1835 as Samuel Langhorne Clemens. The Mark Twain nickname supposedly comes from riverboat slang meaning “two fathoms, safe to sail”. In his youth, he worked as a riverboat pilot a career that lasted until the onset of the U.S. Civil War. His first well-received piece of writing, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”, launched a literary career that would last the rest of his life.

The fence-painting scene in today’s Google Doodle is taken from one of Mark Twain’s most famous works, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”. In the story, Tom Sawyer manages to trick his friends into doing his chore for him. He learns that “work consists of whatever a body is OBLIGED to do,and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”

Even though Twain’s humorous style makes his stories a delight for readers of all ages, Mark Twain incisively covered many issues of social justice in his stories and other writing, including slavery, civil rights, labor issues and more. A life-long love of Science, Mark Twain was a good friend of Nikolai Tesla, the subject of the September 10th, 2009 Google Doodle.