The Love Letters Project #8: Mark Twain & Olivia Langdon

A love letter from Mark Twain to his future wife, Olivia.

Who better to write the world’s most memorable love letters than the world’s most famous writers? And it’s difficult to top the fame of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (described by William Faulkner as “the father of American literature”). This is how Mark Twain goes a-wooing…

Livy dear,

I have already mailed to-day’s letter, but I am so proud of my privilege of writing the dearest girl in the world whenever I please, that I must add a few lines if only to say I love you, Livy. For I do love you, Livy…as the dew loves the flowers; as the birds love the sunshine; as the wavelets love the breeze; as mothers love their first-born; as memory loves old faces; as the yearning tides love the moon; as the angels love the pure in heart…

Take my kiss and my benediction, and try to be reconciled to the fact that I am

Yours forever,



P.S.– I have read this letter over and it is flippant and foolish and puppyish. I wish I had gone to bed when I got back, without writing. You said I must never tear up a letter after writing it to you and so I send it. Burn it, Livy, I did not think I was writing so clownishly and shabbily. I was in much too good a humor for sensible letter writing.

Self-mocking it may have been, but this courtship was a success. The object of Twain’s affection here is Olivia Langdon – having rejected his first proposal of marriage, she had just accepted his second and would become his wife within the year. Through her, Twain came into contact with a number of American luminaries including Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Their marriage would last 34 years until Olivia’s death in 1904.

Images: Abdullah Frères (Wikimedia Commons) & Wikimedia Commons.

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.