Tag Archives: Olivia Clemens


On Thanksgiving Day, 1868, Olivia Langdon “yielded a conditional consent” to Sam Clemens’s third proposal of marriage. They had know each other for less than a year, having been introduced on the occasion of a Charles Dickens reading in New York City the previous New Year’s Eve. Sam had made himself a fixture in Elmira during the Summer and Fall of 1868, going out of his way to visit the Langdons whenever there was an interruption in his American Vandal lecture tour. Read more…


2018 marks the sesquicentennial anniversary of Mark Twain’s first visit to Elmira, the town where he would meet his wife, spend many of his summers over the remainder of his life, write several of his most acclaimed books, and finally be laid to rest. In the following essay, Dr. Seybold commemorates the occasion by offering his estimation of what Elmira meant to Mark Twain.  January 26, 1905 It was the 30th birthday of Mark Twain’s nephew, Jervis Langdon. His father, Charley Langdon, Read more…


The 2018 Park Church Summer Lecture Series Previous “Park Church” and “Trouble Begins” lectures can be found and downloaded in the “Trouble Begins” Archives” or by clicking here. Wednesday, June 13 at the Park Church 7 p.m. “Fingerprints and Microbe Time: Mark Twain and Scientific Skepticism” James W. Leonard, The Citadel It is well known that Twain took contemporary social, political, and particularly racial beliefs to task through an incisive skepticism which outpaced many of his generation. But Twain also Read more…


Saturday, April 21, marked the 108th anniversary of Mark Twain’s passing. For Twain, whose final decade was wracked by overwhelming bereavement, the promise of death’s release was something welcome. By the end of his life, Twain’s sentiments toward life and death were akin to Satan’s musings in Letters From the Earth (1909): Life was not a valuable gift, but death was. Life was a fever-dream made up of joys embittered by sorrows, pleasure poisoned by pain; a dream that was a Read more…


On Saturday, August 5th, the Mark Twain Circle presented the Louis J. Budd Award to Laura Skandera Trombley at the 8th International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies, hosted by the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College. Dr. Trombley is a Professor of English at University of Southern California, as well as former President of Pitzer College and the Huntington Library. She is also author of two books on Sam Clemens’s relationships with women, as well Read more…


In 1867, Mark Twain addressed letters to Missouri expressing his disgust at the thought of women’s voting rights. He expressed that women should stick to their “feminine little trifles” that consisted of “babies…and knitting.” Twain speculated that women were not capable of making decisions about politics and should let the “natural bosses do the voting” instead. Twain described women as one might antique furniture: “an ornament to the place that she occupies.” Women are glorified stepping stones, everyday tools to Read more…


Drawing by Elmira College student, Samantha Berger


Mark Twain described his Autobiography as an “apparently systemless system…a complete and purposed jumble,” and so it is, though it is not wholly without method. Over the course of its composition Twain relied heavily on a biography begun by his daughter, Susy Clemens, when she was just thirteen. Twain would copy a selection from “Susy’s Biography” then expound upon the events and episodes sparsely described therein. This ritual provoked both humor – the celebrated septuagenarian writer debating the details of his Read more…


Open House, Thursday, February 2 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Park Church for all members of the Elmira College community. Please join us for a gathering in the Langdon Parlors, built in 1876, with special guests Livy Clemens (portrayed by Sheila Reed) and her father, Jervis Langdon (portrayed by Jim Hare) to hear about the friendships between the Langdons, Beechers, Cranes and other members of the Park Church. Imagine yourself at Sam and Livy’s wedding 147 years ago Read more…


On December 18, 1868, Mark Twain resumed his “American Vandals” lecture tour after the briefest respite. He had traveled overnight and throughout the day to arrive in Elmira following a performance in Scranton. Less than 24 hours later he boarded the first in the series of trains which would make a circuitous day-long journey to Fort Plain, where he was scheduled to appear on the evening of the 19th. There were several more direct routes which would’ve drastically reduced the hours Read more…


Thomas K. Beecher manuscript for Olivia Susan Clemens’s memorial service

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