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Bird's eye view of the city of Hannibal

[Detail] Bird's eye view of the city of Hannibal

Lesson Overview

Writers are influenced by their environment including their family, community, lifestyle, or location. One such writer was Mark Twain. In this project the learner will become familiar with and analyze life around Hannibal, Missouri, during the latter half of the nineteenth century using various resources to determine what effects this location had on the writings of Mark Twain. The curriculum context will be within a Lesson on Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Segments of this lesson might also be integrated into a study of Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The lessons could be presented with introductory material prior to reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or integrated while reading the novel. Even though these activities center on Mark Twain and his writings, they could easily be adapted to almost any author and his environment.


Students will:

  • understand primary resources.
  • critically evaluate information sources for reliability, accuracy, perspective, relevancy and authoritativeness.
  • understand the impact Mark Twain's environment had on his writings.


Time Required

Two weeks

Recommended Grade Level

Grades 9-10


  • Arts & Culture, Maps & Geography


  • Rise of Industrial America, 1876-1900


Jan Wood & Norma Thiese