Bio of the Month Mark Twain
BIOGRAPHY®: MARK TWAIN
- How do you think Twain's boyhood days in Hannibal, Missouri influenced his adult life, especially his writings?
- How did Samuel Langhorne Clemens select Mark Twain as his pen name?
- Unfortunately, several personal and tragic events occurred during Twain's lifetime. What were some of these events, and what impact did they have on his life, professionally and emotionally?
- Twain lived through the U.S. Civil War. How did the war affect his life and work?
- Name four of Mark Twain's more well-known writings. Which of his writings do you think was most significant and why?
- The need to earn money to support his travels and lifestyle often altered Twain's life and travels. What are some examples of this, and how do you think Twain's life might have differed if he had more money?
- What are some of the "ugly things" that Twain personally experienced or lived through during his lifetime? How did these change the way he wrote and behaved?
- Twain is described and remembered as a "satirist." What does this phrase mean, and how is Twain an example of this style?
- In this documentary, the narrator remarked that Mark Twain "had an understanding of life given to few men." What do you think this statement means, and do you agree with it? Discuss.
- Mark Twain died 100 years ago. Why do you think he is still remembered as an important writer?
- Twain in Quotes
Mark Twain is well-known for providing pearls of wisdom and insight in his lectures and writings. Ask students to research Twain's writings and choose a quote by Twain that they find meaningful or significant. Have them write a short 1 page essay about this quote and what it reveals about Twain's life and legacy.
- A Novel Design
Working in small groups, ask students to design a book jacket for one of Twain's novels. These can be created in PowerPoint format, on poster-board, or any other format they would like. Schools may want to display these projects in the classroom or hallways in honor of the anniversary of Twain's birth.
- Huck Finn 2010
Twain's novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is remembered as one of the most important contributions to American literature. Ask students to create a comic book, an illustrated chapter book, or other creative interpretation of the novel. Students may want to share these projects with younger students.
- Twain Timelines
Twain lived through many significant events in U.S. history, including the Civil War. In small groups, ask students to create illustrated timelines of Twain's life, charting both important events in his life and notable events going on at the same time in the U.S. and throughout the world. Students can include Twain images and quotes to enliven these presentations.