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  • Writer's pictureLinda Borromeo

A Parade of Cats: How a Black Kitten Rescued Mark Twain

Updated: Mar 19, 2021

It began with a small painting.

As legend tells it, Samuel Clemens saw a miniature of Olivia Langdon when he met her brother, Charles, aboard ship in 1867. Samuel instantly fell in love with Olivia's likeness in the tiny painting.

Seeing the "real" Olivia for the first time made him sure he'd found his future wife. It took Olivia a little longer to decide she'd found her future husband. But Samuel was persistent. He stayed for 12 hours the next time he called on the family. The couple married in 1870 and had four children.

Olivia was highly educated and intelligent, and Samuel relied on her not only to run the household, but to edit his manuscripts. I loved learning at the Mark Twain House & Museum that Livy and Samuel enjoyed a marriage of equals at a time when that was not always, or often, the case.

Olivia (Livy) and Samuel Clemens

Through lean times, joyful times, and times of tragedy, Samuel and Livy supported each other emotionally. Their firstborn, a son named Langdon, died as a toddler. Of their three daughters, Susy passed away in 1896 and Jean suffered from epilepsy.

Livy was Samuel's ballast and anchor throughout their married years.