Papers of Ruth Speirs

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection consists of 16 letters from Ruth Speirs and 3 from John Speirs to Ian Fletcher together with correspondence relating to Ruth’s Rilke translations. There are also lists of her translations and several examples of books etc containing her work

Administrative / Biographical History

Ruth Speirs was born in Latvia but during the Second World War was forced to leave her home and become a refugee. She met and married the academic John Speirs who was working for the British Council in the English department of the University of Cairo. Their home became a centre for the many expatriate servicemen in the city interested in writing and discussing poetry. Several publications were produced by the university and the British Institute and Ruth Speirs translated from the German several poems by Rilke which were published in the periodical Personal Landscape in 1944.

After the war John Speirs returned to England with his wife to live in London and work in the Univertsity of Exeter. Ruth continued to publish translations of poetry from both German and Latvian. After John died in 1979 she had some financial difficulties but continued to find enough work to live on. Ruth Speirs died in 2000.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to all researchers. No reader's ticket is required but an appointment is necessary. Check www.reading.ac.uk/special-collections/using/sc-using.asp for contact details and opening hours.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Ian Fletcher

Other Finding Aids

There is no list of this collection

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Gil Skidmore