Vol 3 Section 0799
September, after – Gwendolyn Mastrell wrote from the Longmore Hospital, Edinburgh, to Sam asking for an autograph [MTP].
October, early – Isabel Van Kleek Lyon began her employment with the Clemens family early in the month. Initially, Lyon was to serve as Livy’s secretary, but very soon took on many other duties for Clara and Sam, including dictation, as well as chaperone for Jean and Clara at social functions. Lyon had worked as governess for the Franklin G. Whitmore family until late 1890, when she took a job with the Charles Edmund Dana family of Philadelphia. Dana (1843-1914) was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and an art critic of some note. At the time the Clemenses hired Isabel, Lystra writes that she had been living with her mother, Georgiana Van Kleek Lyon in Farmington, Conn. and that Livy, before her illness, had planned to hire her to be her private secretary . Trombley gives backstory on the Lyon family, Mark Twain’s Other Woman (2010). Trombley tells a tale that Lyon, when governess for the Whitmore’s in the late 1880s, trumped Sam’s ace in a cutthroat game of whist, when Livy could not attend . The story may be apocryphal, since it was narrated by Lyon in the 1940s. No independent verification could be made. See June 30 Livy to Harriet Whitmore.
Powers gets her age wrong at 34, and writes the Clemenses had “vaguely known Isabel Lyon for about twelve years” [MT A Life 614]. Various biographers describe Isabel:
[Powers:] An attractive, dark-haired, mercurial woman, given to self-dramatizing poses and actions, she’d boldly sat in on a hand of whist one night when Sam and Livy were guests at the Whitmores’, a gesture that shocked and interested Sam. She was destined to haunt the author’s final years as an intriguer in his literary, financial, and personal affairs, and to be seen by Clemens and Clara as a sinister presence in the household; even as a romantic temptress after Livy’s death, in the view of some biographers [ibid.]
[Trombley:] Petite and attractive, with liquid brown eyes, long chestnut-colored hair, and porcelain skin, Isabel was twenty-eight years younger than Mark Twain, whose red hair was now going gray. She was representative of a new working class remembered today as the “new woman” [MTOW 10].
[A. Hoffman:] calls Lyon “a pretty, amusing woman” and that she came recommended by Whitmore
Lystra quotes Twain about Lyon: “Slender, petite, comely, 38 years old by the almanac, & 17 in ways & carriage & dress.” Lyon did not board with the Clemens family . Note: See Clara’s letter to Mrs. Whitmore of Dec. 10.
In York Harbor, Maine Sam wrote to Joe Twichell that they would try to take Livy to Riverdale in an invalid rail car next Wednesday, Oct. 15 ; she was very weak. He enclosed some correspondence between his old guide Joseph Verey, who was now a beggar, and Robert Allbut of the Traveller’s Bureau, London. “Remember Joseph, Joe?” [MTP]. Note: Some of this information on Verey and Allbut ran in the Oct. 3 issue of the NY Times, p.8, “Topic of the Times.”
October – Sam inscribed his copy of Lew Wallace’s The First Christmas, from “Ben-Hur” (1902): “S.L.
Clemens / York Harbor, Maine, / October 1902” [Gribben 738].
October 1 Wednesday – In York Harbor, Maine Sam wrote to Theodore Weld Stanton in N.Y.C.
“Welcome home! / Mrs. Clemens is slowly recovering from a long & wasting illness, but we believe that a fortnight hence we shall be able to move her to Riverdale, where I shall hope to see you when you can run up” [MTP].
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.