> Skip to content
  • Published: 3 March 2009
  • ISBN: 9780451531209
  • Imprint: Signet
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $9.99

Life on the Mississippi

A Library of America Paperback Classic




At once a romantic history of a mighty river, an autobiographical account of Twain's early steamboat days, and a storehouse of humorous anecdotes and sketches, here is the raw material from which Mark Twain wrote his finest novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Hannibal, Missouri, on the banks of the Mississippi River, was host to riverboat travelers from around the world, providing a vigorous and variable atmosphere for the young Samuel Clemens to absorb. Clemens became a riverboat pilot and even chose his pen name—Mark Twain—from a term boatmen would call out signifying water depth at two fathoms, meaning safe clearance for travel. It was from this background that Life on the Mississippi emerged. It is an epochal record of America’s growth, a stirring remembrance of her vanished past. And it earned for its author his first recognition as a serious writer. 

With an Introduction by Justin Kaplan
and an Afterword by John Seelye

  • Published: 3 March 2009
  • ISBN: 9780451531209
  • Imprint: Signet
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $9.99

About the author

Mark Twain

Mark Twain's real name was Sam Clemens, and he was born in 1835 in a small town on the Mississippi, one of seven children. He smoked cigars at the age of eight, and aged nine he stowed away on a steamboat. He left school at 11 and worked at a grocery store, a bookstore, a blacksmith's and a newspaper, where he was allowed to write his own stories (not all of them true). He then worked on a steamboat, where he got the name 'Mark Twain' (from the call given by the boat's pilot when their boat is in safe waters). Eventually he turned to journalism again, travelled round the world, and began writing books which became very popular. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are his most famous novels. He poured the money he earned from writing into new business ventures and crazy inventions, such as a clamp to stop babies throwing off their bed covers, a new boardgame, and a hand grenade full of extinguishing liquid to throw on a fire. With his shock of white hair and trademark white suit Mark Twain became the most famous American writer in the world. He died in 1910.

Also by Mark Twain

See all

Related titles