Livy Clemens (Mark Twain's Wife) Dies
Olivia and Samuel moved to Buffalo, New York, where they lived in a house purchased for them by Olivia’s father Jervis.
Life was difficult for them at first. Jervis Langdon died of cancer in August, followed a month later by Olivia’s friend Emma Nye, who died in the Clemens’ home. Their first child, Langdon Clemens, was born in November, but was premature. Olivia contracted typhoid fever, and became very ill. They moved to Elmira, so that Olivia’s family could watch over her and Langdon.
In 1871, the family moved again, to Hartford, Connecticut. They rented a large house in the Nook Farm neighborhood, and quickly became important members of the social and literary scene there. They were well off due to Samuel Clemens’ earnings from his books and lectures, and Olivia’s inheritance, and they lived lavishly. In 1874, they moved into a distinctive house that they’d had built on land they purchased. They lived there until 1891.
Langdon, their son, died in 1872, a year and a half after his birth. Three daughters were born – Olivia Susan in 1872, Clara in 1874, and Jane in 1880. Olivia Susan was called Susy, and Jane was called Jean.
The family left for Europe in 1891, and lived there for four years. This was mainly caused by financial need – Samuel’s investments in a publishing company and the Paige compositor lost money, and the family’s expenses were catching up with them. They permanently closed up the Hartford house, and spent the four years in various temporary accommodations. In 1894, Samuel was forced to declare bankruptcy. Olivia was given “preferred creditor” status, and all Samuel’s copyrights were assigned to her. These measures saved the family’s financial future.
In 1895 and 1896, Olivia and her daughter Clara accompanied Samuel on his around-the-world lecture tour. The next year, their daughter Susy died of spinal meningitis at age 23, a devastating blow to Olivia. The family lived in Switzerland, Austria, and England until 1902. They then returned to the United States, and lived in Riverdale, New York, arranging to move into a house in Tarrytown. Olivia’s health began getting worse. She was advised to keep a distance from her husband, and the two went months without seeing each other. By the end of 1903, doctors’ advice led the Clemens to move to Italy, for the warm climate. They resided in a villa outside of Florence. Olivia died there from heart failure in June 1904. She was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira.
Like his father and brother before him, Clemens was unlucky in business and much of his writing and lecturing was spurred by the need to pay off debts stemming from bad investments. Toward the end of his life, Clemens passed through a period of deep depression, which began in 1896 when he received word on a lecture tour in England that his favorite daughter, Susy, had died of meningitis. His wife's death in 1904, and the loss of a second daughter in 1909, deepened his gloom. Clemens had once humorously predicted that, since his birth had coincided with the appearance of Halley's comet, his own death would come when the comet next returned.