29 August 2011

The Children of Mark Twain

by Jacquie Rogers

Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) is probably the best-known American author of all time. He was curious (a close friend of Nikola Tesla) and he had a case of the wonderlust that served his writing well. He was a popular speaker, novelist, and he promoted his works relentlessly. Twain made a lot of money from his writing, but he wasn't so hot at investing, so spent a good share of his time scraping by.

In 1870, he married Olivia Langdon, the sister of Twain's friend, Charles Langdon. They first lived in Buffalo, New York, and then moved to Hartford, Conneticut, where they built a house and settled. Their first child, a son named Langdon, was born prematurely in 1870 and died in 1872 of diptheria.

Next came Olivia Susan Clemens, called Suzy. She suffered from poor health all her life but was a very intelligent child, penning a biography of her father when she was only thirteen. This biography was included in Twain's Chapters from my Autobiography. Suzy attended Bryn Mawr University and was active in theater, writing plays, acting, and singing. She left after a year, but continued writing.

Most sources say she was the apple of her daddy's eye, but she had difficulty living under the umbrella of Mark Twain's daughter. In August of 1896, she contracted spinal meningitis and died three days later at the age of 24. Her parents were devastated, and Mark Twain never did get over his losss.

In 1874, a third child was born to Samuel and Olivia Clemons: contralto Clara Langhorne Clemens Samossoud. Clara had the distinction of being the only one of her siblings to live a long life. She was a talented singer and studied voice and piano in Vienna and elsewhere in Europe. Her debut European performance was in Florence, Italy. She performed frequently in the United States as well.

Clara married Ossip Gabrilowitsch, a pianist, conductor, and composer. They had a daughter, Nina, and Gabrilowitsch died in 1936 of stomach cancer. In 1944, she married symphony conductor Jacques Samossoud, a man twenty years younger than she.

Because she was the only child who survived, Clara managed the Mark Twain estate until her death. Her daughter died four years later of a possible drug overdose.

The last child born was Jane Lampton Clemens, called "Jean." She contracted scarlet fever at age two and was never healthy after that. From the time she was ten years old until her death, she suffered seizure, later diagnosed as epilepsy. She spent many years in and out of sanitariums, and died of a heart attack caused by a seizure when she was bathing. She was only 29.

There are no surviving direct descendants of Samual and Olivia Clemens.

Sources:
Steamboat Times
Twaintimes
Wikipedia: Clara
Virginia.edu


Jacquie Rogers writes quirky, magical romances. Available now are: Western historical romance, MUCH ADO ABOUT MARSHALS 
Contemporary western, DOWN HOME EVER LOVIN' MULE BLUES
Multi-era faery story, FAERY SPECIAL ROMANCES
Christmas story, FAERY MERRY CHRISTMAS.

She's co-founder of 1st Turning Point, a pay-it-forward website where authors teach, share and learn promotion and marketing.

3 comments:

Aithne Jarretta said...

Thank you for sharing this info. I've been a fan of Mark Twain since my early days of reading. ;o) In some ways it's sad there are no living descendants, butI believe his words will live forever. ~ Aithne

Jacquie Rogers said...

Aithne, it really is sad. Twain's wife and three of his four daughters suffered with ill health, and he was estranged from his healthy daughter a good share of the time. But we'll have his wonderful books forever, partly because of that same daughter.

P.L. Parker said...

How very sad! Very interesting post!