The Autobiography of Mark Twain Characters
by Mark Twain

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Olivia Langdon Clemens

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

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Olivia Langdon Clemens is Twain's wife. Often referred to as "Livy," or ‘‘Mrs. Clemens,’’ Olivia is an invalid most of her life due to a partial paralysis from a fall on the ice at age sixteen. Twain first learns of Olivia from her brother Charley, one of Twain's shipmates on the Quaker City excursion.

Twain meets Olivia for the first time following the Quaker City excursion. He begins to court Olivia, and proposes to her on several occasions, but she initially denies his proposals. Twain then fakes an injury following an accident at Olivia's house, and she ends up nursing him back to health. The next time he proposes, she accepts. As a wedding gift, Olivia's father buys the young couple a house in Buffalo, New York. Olivia's father tells Olivia about the house, but she and her father hide the fact from Twain for a time, using it as the basis to play a joke on him.

Olivia is much more affectionate than Twain, who was brought up to be reserved. She acts as Twain's inspiration through their many years of poverty and debt, and edits most of his written works. Olivia helps preserve her husband's literary reputation in other ways as well. When his publishing company fails, Olivia is the one who first suggests to her husband that he pay back everything that is owed to the company's creditors, so that Twain's character is not stained. She also supports Twain's decision to destroy lower quality manuscripts before he is tempted to sell them and discourages him from lending his name as editor to a humorous periodical, which would pay a large salary but would be a step down for a writer of his stature.

Olivia and Twain have several children together. Their firstborn, Langdon, dies as a baby after complication stemming from a cold. They also bury their second child, Susy, after Susy contracts meningitis at age twenty-four.

Olivia herself becomes ill on several separate occasions during the last decade of her life, when she and Twain are doing a lot of traveling. However, she recovers from these maladies. During the last two years of her life, she falls seriously ill and ultimately dies of heart failure at Twain's villa.

Orion Clemens

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

Orion Clemens is Twain's oldest sibling. He is an enterprising individual with many optimistic ideas, but his bad business sense gets him into trouble when he puts money into a string of ill-fated investments. He is so honest that as soon as he buys a business, he reduces the price of the product so far that he cannot afford to pay his overhead.

Orion has other misadventures. He gets engaged to two Illinois girls, until one of them forces him to break off the other engagement and marry her. He and his new wife move to her hometown and buy a newspaper office. Twain often helps out Orion, such as when he works in Orion's newspaper office after leaving his printer's apprenticeship.

Through a friend, Orion secures the office of secretary of the new territory of Nevada, working under Governor Nye. His extreme honesty makes him popular with the legislature, who cannot trust one another. Nye is often absent from the territory, leaving Orion to act as governor. When Nye lobbies to turn the territory of Nevada into an official state, it is assumed that Orion will become secretary of state. However, on the day that he is to be nominated, Orion suddenly shifts his views from supporting alcohol to banning it, and the pro-alcohol community refuses to nominate him.

Jobless, Orion and his wife sell their Nevada house at a reduced price, squander the money on a vacation in New York, then eventually settle in Hartford, Connecticut, where Twain helps Orion trick his way into an editing job. Against Twain's advice, Orion takes a better-paying editorial job in Virginia, from which he is eventually fired. Orion tries his hand at several more careers, including law, chicken farming, and inventing, but he does not find success, and repeatedly has to borrow money from Twain to survive.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

Samuel Langhorne Clemens is the author and main character in...

(The entire section is 2,592 words.)