Benjamin Morse (1899-1977), Professor of Italian, c. 1935-1966

Scope and Content

The collection encompasses Benjamin Morse's career as a poet, critic and scholar and extends to some several hundred letters as well as his own poems and articles, translations of poetry, prose works and plays, reviews, biographical materials and numerous photographs, cards, press cuttings and pamphlets.

The collection contains:

(1) Personal and family papers of Benjamin Morse, including the Scroll of Cavaliere dell'Ordine al Merito della Republica Italiana, dated 2 June 1966.

(2) Original poetry by Benjamin Morse.

(3) Articles and Pamphlets by Benjamin Morse including: 'Rilke and the occult', Psychic science 24 (1945); 'Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Blake', English Studien 66 (1931/2); 'Rainer Maria Rilke and Martin Buber', Alles Lebendige meinet den Menschen (Bern, 1972): 'Rainer Maria Rilke and English literature'; 'Contemporary English poets and Rilke', German life and letters 1 (1947-8).

(4) Reviews from Modern language review, Welsh review and Englische Studien.

(5) Translations from Rainer Maria Rilke, including The story of the love and death of Cornet Christopher Rilke (Osnabrück, 1927)

(6) Typescript of translation of the 'Duino elegies' and other translations from Rilke.

(7) Rilke's works, including photostat copies of the manuscript version of his translation of Valéry's Palme and of Marguerite von Kühlmann (1919) by Rudolf Alexander.

(8) Benjamin Morse's correspondence with the Rilke family.

(9) Manuscript and typescript translations of four plays by Carl Sternheim (1878-1942).

(10)Translations from writers other than Rilke: Lorenzo Stecchetti, Salvatore Quasimodo, Dietmar von Eist and Meinloh von Sevelingen (inter alia), all privately printed in Padua, 1971-76.

(11) Alfred Mombert (1872-1942). Materials (mostly photocopies) gathered by Morse while preparing his editions of Mombert's letters: Briefe 1893-1942 (1961) and Briefe an Vasanta 1922-1937 (1965). The materials include photocopies of works by Mombert, photocopies and transcripts of letters to and from Mombert; original letters from Rudolf Pannwitz to Mombert and between Richard Benz and Mombert; original poems by E.R.Weiss for Mombert.

(12) Materials relating to other German writers include: Countess Nora Wydenbruck (1894-1959); Felix Braun (1885-1973), Austrian poet; Carl Sternheim (1878-1942), playwright; Jethro Bithell (1878-1962), head of the German Department at Birkbeck College, London.

(13) Letters, which have been catalogued as German, Italian, English, Welsh and Anglo-Welsh - all correspondents have been identified wherever possible.

Administrative / Biographical History

Benjamin Joseph Morse (1899-1977), lecturer and senior lecturer in Italian at University College, Cardiff, 1940-66. After graduation from Aberystwyth University in 1923, Morse spent some years on the continent, at Trieste, Osnabrück and other cities, where he began his correspondence with German and Italian writers, which was renewed after 1945. He was a poet, critic and scholar, a notable translator of poetry (especially Rilke) and plays (e.g. Sternheim) and editor of Mombert's letters. B. J. Morse was made a knight of the Italian Republic in 1966.

Access Information

Access is available by prior appointment, during 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.

Related Material

The University also holds Morse's library, and a substantial collection of books by Rainer Maria Rilke.

Official records relating to Cardiff University and its predecessors are held in Institutional Archives and are the responsibility of the University Records Manager.