Jean Clemens

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Jane Lampton Clemens, usually known as Jean Clemens, (July 26, 1880 – December 24, 1909) was the youngest of the three daughters of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, and his wife Olivia Langdon Clemens. She was born in Hartford, Connecticut.[1] She died near Redding, Connecticut[2] by drowning in a bathtub following a heart attack thought to be related to her epilepsy, at her father's home in Stormfield.

Character and early life[edit]

According to Mark Twain's Autobiography, Jean Clemens, like her mother, was a kind-hearted person and particularly fond of animals. She founded or worked with a number of societies for the protection of animals in the various locations where she lived.[3]


She had epilepsy from age fifteen, which her father attributed to a head injury she had suffered at age eight or nine.[4] The family spent years seeking cures in the United States and Europe. Twain also attributed her mood swings and sometimes erratic behavior to her uncontrolled epilepsy.[5]

Olivia Langdon Clemens tried to include her daughter in family life despite her illness, but after Olivia's death in 1904 it was left to Twain and Jean's older sister Clara Clemens to manage her and the difficulties her illness caused. Twain's secretary, Isabel Lyon, claimed that on two occasions in 1906 Jean physically attacked Katy Leary, a maid for the family, and said she had wanted to kill her.[6] In her 2004 biography Dangerous Intimacy: The Untold Story of Mark Twain's Final Years, historian Karen Lystra questioned the accuracy of Lyon's account of Jean's violent behavior and suggests that Lyon manipulated a separation between father and daughter because Lyon hoped to marry Twain.[7] Jean was sent to an epilepsy colony in Katonah, New York in the fall of 1906 and her father denied her requests to come home, fearing that he could not care for her.[8] Twain fired Lyon and her new husband in 1909, claiming they were both guilty of embezzlement, and permitted Jean to return home in April 1909. Jean and her father seemed to get along well together, though Jean found her father stubborn and temperamental.[9]


Jean decorated her father's house for Christmas 1909, but was found dead in her bath on Christmas Eve 1909. She apparently suffered a heart attack brought on by a seizure and drowned.[2][10]


  1. ^ Youngblood, Wayne (2006). Mark Twain Along the Mississippi. Gareth Stevens. p. 60. ISBN 0-8368-6435-2 
  2. ^ a b "Miss. Jean Clemens Found Dead in Bath". The New York Times (Redding, Conn., published December 25, 1909). December 24, 1909. p. 1. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2008-04-21 
  3. ^ Twain, Mark (1910). ""The Death of Jean"". Mark Twain's Autobiography. Retrieved January 24, 2008. 
  4. ^ Trombley, Laura Skandera. ""She Wanted to Kill: Jean Clemens and Postictal Psychosis"". She Wanted to Kill: Jean Clemens and Postictal Psychosis. Retrieved January 24, 2008. 
  5. ^ Ward, Duncan, and Burns (2001), p. 221
  6. ^ Ward, Duncan, and Burns (2001), pp. 227-230
  7. ^ Lystra (2004)
  8. ^ Ward, Duncan and Burns (2001), p. 230
  9. ^ Ward, Duncan, and Burns (2001), p. 248
  10. ^ Ward, Duncan and Burns (2001), pp. 250-251