Mark and Livy: The Love Story of Mark Twain and the Woman Who Almost Tamed Him 0th Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0415947749
ISBN-10: 041594774X
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Olivia Langston (1845-1904) married Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) in 1870 and remained his wife for 34 years. In line with the conventions of the times, she saw herself as a wife, mother and "tamer" of iconoclastic Twain. However as Willis, literature professor at Drury College in Missouri, points out in this carefully researched, readable biography, Langston was also his valued critic and editor. In humorous anecdotes Twain portrayed "Livy" as a shrew--but the relationship between the mild-mannered, self-effacing woman and the cantankerous literary genius was apparently one of deep commitment and love. Their affection for one another, claims Willis, saw them through the rise and fall of their financial fortunes, the death of their daughter and Livy's many illnesses. The author's access to letters and journals gives insight into both husband and wife, as well as providing a portrait of American domestic life in the late 1800s.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Twain's domestic years (1870-1904) were not what he considered his best. But in spite of illness and financial stress, they were the years when he wrote the novels and stories he is remembered for--works that, according to Willis (Literature/Drury College) in this slight and sentimental story, were edited and inspired by Olivia ``Livy'' Langdon, Twain's wife, whom he called ``angel'' and ``gravity.'' Recovering from ``neurasthenia,'' a form of weakness that afflicted upper-class, intellectually repressed Victorian women, Livy entered a ``classic'' marriage as the ``civilizing'' influence on a hard-drinking, smoking, swearing, sociable dreamer who liked to travel. She decorated his homes, entertained his friends, toured Europe and the world with him as he lectured and wrote, and provided the fortune that allowed them to live so well on an editor's salary--a fortune he lost on the ill-fated Paige typesetting machine. Livy also bore four children: a son who died in infancy and three emotionally crippled daughters, also tamed in odd ways--at age four, the oldest was ``whipped'' daily in the bathroom with a ``hairbrush or papercutter.'' Although Livy's dark side--her elitist, tyrannical, and repressive nature--is obvious, the love story Willis claims to offer is not. Rather, there is a record of holidays (not very festive), expenses, travels, domestic chores, visits, visitors, griefs, and all possible illnesses--from pinkeye to epilepsy--and the medical foolishness with which many of them were treated. The best story, only implicit here, is not the taming of Mark but the liberation of Livy, the adventure of being Mrs. Clemens, especially the lecture tour around the world with all the bizarre escapades in Fiji, Tasmania, Africa, and India, lovingly related in Following the Equator, a Twain work that does not even appear in Willis's bibliography, with the voyage itself squeezed between Twain's carbuncles and daughter Susy's death. (Two eight-page photo inserts--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (October 24, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 041594774X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415947749
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,045,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Resa Willis is a PEN nominated author of biographies. She is the author of Mark and Livy: The Love Story of Mark Twain and the Woman Who Almost Tamed Him. It has been optioned for a film. She is also the author of FDR and Lucy: Lovers and Friends, the story of the secret romance of President Franklin Roosevelt and his lifelong love, Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd.

Her most recent book, Farmer's Daughter And I Can Prove It, is a humorous reflection on growing up on an Iowa farm. Satirizing a 40th high school reunion, she reminisces about life lessons rooted in rural life: hard work, educaiton, family, community and, of course, the old joke, sex.

She is a professor of English at Drury University in Springfield, MO. A popular speaker, she has lectures across the U.S. and in England on the family life of Mark Twain and the love affair between FDR and Lucy.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Randall Fuller on June 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
It's not simply that Willis provides readers with a new way of understanding Twain's life and work--it's that she does so with such an eloquent prose style. If on the surface Olivia Langdon Clemens appears to be the quintessential Victorian lady--frail, neuresthenic, domestic--her inner strength and unflappable judgement are skillfully uncovered by Willis, who in this work produces that rarest of things: a literary biography that is both literary and biographical.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
Mark and Livy represents the only full-length survey of the woman behind Mark Twain - wife Olivia Clemens, or Livy. Chapters consider her entire role in his life, from her position as wife and mother to her involvement in his writings and career. A lively account which will appeal to Twain fans and readers of biography alike.
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By Valerie on August 27, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read numerous books on Twain, but this is my favorite, focussing as it does on his private life.

The book also gives a unique picture of middle class married life at the time, including the ways in which things like clinical depression were viewed and handled.

This particular book to my mind gives one of the best pictures of Twain when he wasn't busy being famous.
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