The Trouble Begins in Hartford: Mark Twain and Elmira

The Center for Mark Twain Studies and the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut, are teaming up to offer a special, online The Trouble Begins lecture at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 20.

When Samuel Clemens, more commonly known by his pen name “Mark Twain,” married Olivia Langdon on February 2, 1870, it was inevitable that Elmira would become a cornerstone for their family life. The Langdon’s, Sam’s in-laws, were a prominent Elmira family. Sam, Livy, and their daughters would frequent Quarry Farm, home of Olivia’s sister Susan Langdon Crane, during the summer. Additionally, the Clemens family is buried in Elmira’s Woodlawn Cemetery, along with the Langdon family.

The Mark Twain House and Museum

Betsy Maguire, who created and launched the Living History program at The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, will interview Dr. Matt Seybold, Elmira College Assistant Professor of American Literature & Mark Twain Studies, and Dr. Joseph Lemak, Director of the Center for Mark Twain Studies and Elmira College Assistant Professor of History, about all things Twain in Elmira.

The online program is free to attend; attendees are encouraged to contribute what they consider a fair ticket price. Registration is available online:

Seybold joined the Elmira College faculty in July 2015. He earned his Ph.D. from University of California, Irvine in 2012, after which he worked at The University of Alabama. He teaches courses on all periods of American Literature, as well as interdisciplinary courses on mass media and economics. Seybold’s scholarship focuses on the intersection of economics, mass media, and literary culture in the United States from the founding of the New York Stock Exchange in 1817 to the 2008 financial crisis. He has been a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Scholar at the Center for the History of Political Economy at Duke University, a Taylor Fellow in American Literature at University of Virginia’s Harrison Institute, and a Fathman Young Scholar Award recipient.

Lemak became Director of CMTS in January of 2016. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics (with an emphasis in Roman History) from University at Buffalo and teaches a wide range of classes, including European History. As a lifelong resident of Elmira, Lemak is intimately familiar with the local legacy of Twain and his extended family. He has already succeeded in deepening ties between the Center, the College, and other historic institutions like the Park Church and the Chemung Valley Museum, where Lemak previously served as editor of the Chemung Historical Journal. Lemak organizes the Trouble Begins lecture series, the Twain Symposia, the Quadrennial Conference, the Summer Institute for Teachers, and the Quarry Farm Fellowships.

Maguire is a freelance playwright, working with museums, historical societies and non-profit organizations. She created and launched the Living History program at The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford. Maguire has won Best Comedy and Best Drama festival awards, the “Connecticut Stories on Stage” contest, and was the 2019 recipient of the “Excellence in Playwriting Award,” given by the International Museum Theatre Alliance.

About The Mark Twain House & Museum – The Mark Twain House & Museum has restored the author’s Hartford, Connecticut, home, where the author and his family lived from 1874 to 1891. In addition to providing tours of Twain’s restored home, a National Historic Landmark, the institution offers activities and educational programs that illuminate Twain’s literary legacy and provide information about his life and times.

About the Center for Mark Twain Studies – The Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies was founded in January 1983 with the gift of Quarry Farm to Elmira College by Jervis Langdon, the great-grand-nephew of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. The Center offers distinctive programs to foster and support Mark Twain scholarship and to strengthen the teaching of Mark Twain at all academic levels. The Center serves the Elmira College community and regional, national, and international students and scholars of Mark Twain.