How did Samuel Clemens arrive in Elmira, NY?
Thirty-two-year-old Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) first saw the image of Elmira's Olivia Langdon while traveling on the Quaker City Steamer — a cruise ship charted to visit Europe and the Holy Land. Clemens was onboard to report the journey. While traveling Clemens met Olivia's younger brother, seventeen-year-old Charles Langdon, and the two became friends. Charley showed Samuel a picture of his older sister, twenty-two-year-old Livy. Much later, a courtship began, and marriage followed on February 2, 1870.
Summers in Elmira
Beginning in 1870 and continuing until 1889, Samuel and Livy and their growing family spent summer months in Elmira where they stayed with Livy's adopted older sister, Susan Crane, and her husband, Theodore, at their home, Quarry Farm. Quarry Farm was located on East Hill overlooking the Chemung River. By Clemens' own admission, life in Hartford offered many distractions, while the relatively quiet life at Quarry Farm allowed him to "pile up manuscript" at a more satisfying rate.
In 1874, Susan Crane had a small octagonal study built for her brother-in-law above the main house. Susan Crane hired Alfred Thorp, Edward Tuckerman Potter's associate, to design the unusual study, which had a latticework
(1) The Study in its original location on East Hill
(2) The Study was moved here from Quarry Farm in 1952
frieze and other decorative details resembling those of the Clemenses' year-round home in Hartford, CT. Albert Bigelow Paine commented that the building was "...somewhat suggestive of a pilot-house — overlooking the long sweep of grass and the dream-like city below" (Paine, Albert Bigelow. Mark Twain: A Biography. I
, 507-08). In the Study, Clemens wrote major portions of his best-known works, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Life on the Mississippi,
and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
. In an interview with a Chicago Tribune reporter in 1886, he remarked that the Study "may be called the home of Huckleberry Finn and other books of mine, for they were written here."
In 1952, the Study was moved from its original location at Quarry Farm to the Elmira College campus. Here, the Study is preserved, and visitors can easily access it. The Study is open for visitors in late Spring, Summer, and early Fall. If you are viewing the Study in the off-season, please feel free to call (607) 735-1941 to arrange a visit to the Study and the Cowles Hall Exhibit. If available, we will be happy to open both the Study and the Exhibit for you. If you do not have a cell phone, cross Park Place to Tompkins Hall and the Security Office (ground level, left). An officer may open the Study for you, or you may call the
(1) Mark Twain Exhibit in North Wing of Cowles Hall
(2) Cowles Hall (November 1870)