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How was Mark Twain educated?

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Quick Answer

Mark Twain stopped going to school after he finished elementary school. He often said that education and schooling are different, and he credited life experience for teaching him how to write and tell stories.

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Mark Twain, born Samuel Clemens, credited his success to the experiences he had as a boy and young man. He has said that he was grateful that he stopped going to school when he was 11. Forced to work after his father died, he became a store clerk and delivery boy, worked as an apprentice, and then took a job as a compositor. In this role, he set type for local printers, and this is when he began contributing articles to newspapers.

Between 1853 and 1865, he worked as a journeyman printer in St. Louis, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia. He worked as a steamboat river pilot, invested in timber and silver mining, and settled into his first newspaper job. There, he adopted the name Mark Twain, which means water just safe enough to navigate. "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," a short story, brought him instant fame, and he later drew from his experiences in Nevada and steering a riverboat in "Roughing It" and in articles for the Atlantic Monthly.

Twain had so little interest in education that he often ridiculed it. He compared cauliflower to a cabbage that has a college education, suggested that removing Jane Austen's books from a library would make it a better library, famously said that he never let school get in the way of his education, and considered education to be more deadly than a massacre.

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