Olivia Langdon was born in 1845 into a wealthy business family. She had poor health as a child and health problems returned to plague her in later life.
She met Samuel Clemens through her brother Charles. Charles had been on a world tour and travelled with Clemens. When Samuel first saw a portrait of Charles’ sister, he fell in love immediately and couldn't wait to meet her. He was invited to dinner and it is reported his second “short” visit to the Langdon home lasted twelve hours.
Olivia declined his first proposal but accepted the second. It took him a year of courtship to win her acceptance. They were married in February of 1870 and moved to Buffalo.
He wrote to a friend shortly after his marriage, "I have the only sweetheart I have ever loved, she is the best girl and the sweetest and gentlest and the daintiest and she is the most perfect gem of womankind.” Their life together got off to a rocky start, not through any lack of love but from a series of unhappy events. Olivia's father died and her friend Emma shortly after. Their first child, a son Langdon, was born prematurely. Olivia got typhoid and was very ill. An unhappy beginning to a happy marriage.
Langdon was not a healthy boy and died at the age of one and a half years. Olivia and Samuel eventually settled in Hartford where they lived for twenty years.
They had three daughters, Clara, Jean and Susy, but Clara was the only child to outlive her parents. Her only child was a daughter who died childless so there are no living descendents.
Their life together is chronicled by correspondence between them throughout their married years. Olivia was his helpmate, his advisor and his critic. She would read the stories aloud to the family, dog-earing pages where she felt there should be changes. Apparently Samuel found amusement in writing some really outrageous passages he knew she would suggest he omit just to see her reaction as she read them. He usually, but not always, took her advice and relied on her critical abilities a great deal.
They ran into financial difficulties through some unfortunate investments, among them a form of typesetter which wasn't a success. They declared bankruptcy and lived all over Europe returning to the United States in 1902.
When Olivia became ill in her later life, her doctor suggested the climate of Italy would help her breathing problems. They immediately moved. She was so weak her husband was requested to spend only short periods of time with her to avoid excitement. Olivia died in Florence.
Clemens once said of his wife, "But I am blessed above my kind, with another self-a life companion who is part of me, part of my heart and flesh and spirit, and not a fellow pilgrim who lags far behind, or flies ahead or soars above me."