Mark Twain, the real name Samuel Langhorne Clemens, was the pen name of America’s favorite author. His famous novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) are often called as
Great American Novel. He was devastated by the death of his wife, but a furry friend was on the way to rescue him…
Mark Twain and Olivia Langdon, A Woman of Substance
Samuel Clemens met Charles Langdon as a fellow passenger on board to the Quaker City in 1867. Charles showed miniature paintings of Charles Langdon’s old sister, Olivia Langdon and Samuel fell in love with this woman instantly. That was the beginning of their love story.
This woman, Olivia was raised by her father, Jervis Langdon. He was a very successful businessman who dealt in timber and coal.
The Langdons were one of the leading families of the community. Livy’s mother was able to be socially active through charities and women’s organizations while her aunt was a pioneering itinerant teacher at a time when women were just beginning to be allowed to graduate with college degrees to be equal to those of men.
Sam wrote his sister in 1869 before they got married:
I take as much pride in her brains as I do in her beauty & as much pride in her happy & equable disposition as I do in her brains. Olivia’s intellectual and progressive upbringing would be a major influence on Samuel Clemens and his writing.
Livy’s and Sam’s marriage was very much one of the equals. Olivia was an active participant in her husband’s writing. He left pages of manuscript by her bedside for her to read and review. He often, though not always, accepted her suggestions.
Sam remembered in his autobiography how he liked to insert phrases and incidents which he knew Livy would not approve – just to see her reaction.
When their lovely story ends after 34 years of marriage, Livy died in 1904. Sam’s world collapsed.
Mark Twain quotes (goodreads)
Bambino, the Black Cat
After Livy died, one of their daughters Clara went to a sanatorium. Every family members were deeply affected by Livy’s death, who was being firm, yet the gentle moral center of the household.
Clara had a black cat, which she found a comfort while she could not meet any friends or family members. But she had to let him go since the facility didn’t let her have a cat. Clara asked her father to take care of him.
The black cat Bambino came to Sam’s house and fit right in. Sam came from a family who loved cats and his mother had taken in and cared for strays from his earliest memories.
As an adult, Sam might have had as many as 19 cats at a time in the family home. Bambino became a beloved comfort for Sam as well in his struggles with an overwhelming grief.
…And he disappeared.
A CAT LOST – FIVE DOLLARS REWARD
Have you seen a distinguished looking black cat that looks as if it might be lost? If you have taken it to Mark Twain, for it may be his.
Sam placed an ad in the New York American.
Large and intensely black; thick, velvety fur; has a faint fringe of white hair across his chest; not easy to find in ordinary light.
A perfect stream of cats and their owners showed up at
Mark Twain’s house. Soon Sam felt so bad that he advertised in all the papers for him. Even parades of cats and people, there’s no Bambino in it.
The situation moved two or three nights after that, Bambino got back home! Samuel was delighted and then he advertised that his cat was found.
Perhaps because of the outpouring of well-meaning cats and people, even they just wanted to have a glimpse of
Mark Twain, and they kept coming in even after Bambino’s back, he began to emerge from his deep grief and go out into the world again.
Mark Twain quotes (goodreads)
…Added info about Mark Twain’s friendship with a genius inventor who happened to have a black cat as well…
Sam was fascinated with science and scientific inquiry. He developed a close and lasting friendship with Nikola Tesla, and the two spent much time together in Tesla’s laboratory.
Sam patented three inventions, including an history trivia game. Most commercially successful was a self-pasting scrapbook; a dried adhesive on the pages needed only to be moistened before use. Over 25,000 were sold.
Also published on Medium.