Papers of Herberth Herlitschka

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection consists of many translations by Herlitschka of works by W.B. Yeats with notes, correspondence and critical material relating to them; translations of short stories by Lady Gregory; poems by Herlitschka; correspondence between Herberth and Marlys Herlitschka and various literary figures, mainly relating to translations, including Nigel Balchin [2], Maurice Bowra [3], Guy Chapman [2], Ashley Dukes [2], T.S. Eliot [4], David Garnett [17], Aldous Huxley [ 14], Storm Jameson [6], Henry Festing Jones [3], D.H. and Frieda Lawrence [6], Rosamund Lehmann [20], Charles Morgan [17], Lady Mary O'Malley [33], Ezra Pound [3] and Angus Wilson [2] with single letters from Richard Aldington, Phyllis Bottome, Norman Collins, Ronald Duncan, E.M. Forster, John Lehmann, Naomi Mitchison, John Middleton Murry, Arthur Waley and Stephan Zweig.

Administrative / Biographical History

Herberth Egon Herlitschka was born in Vienna in the early years of the 20th century. As a student of English literature he spent four years in Britain in the early 1920s and on his return to Austria made it his aim to bring the work of English writers before German readers in order to aid understanding. He wrote and lectured on English literature at the People's University in Vienna and he and his wife Marlys (1905-1975) translated the works of many English writers into German and laboured long and hard as literary agents to find publishers for them.

With the rise of National Socialism the political climate made Herlitschka's work more difficult. His championing of English writers was seen as suspect and although at first his position as an Austrian meant that he did not have to submit to German controls over his work eventually his Jewish descent made him unemployable. In 1938, after the Germans had occupied Austria, Herberth and Marlys, helped by their literary contacts, left Vienna for England. Mary O'Malley and David Garnett found them temporary accommodation while Herberth searched for work without success. In 1940 in desperation Herberth joined the British army to avoid internment as an alien. The AMPC [Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps] recruited alien companies who served in the UK on building, forestry and railway and port maintenance work and Herberth continued doing this uncongenial work until 1942 when transfers were allowed and he at last found employment at the BBC.

After the war Herberth continued his work as a translator and in 1948 he and Marlys became naturalised British citizens. He was often difficult to work with because he saw the role of the translator as equal to that of the author and expected his payment to reflect this. He felt any rejection of his claims personally and cut himself off from many of his literary friends. Eventually Herberth and Marlys decided that Switzerland offered them better business and financial opportunities and they moved to Ticino where they remained for the rest of their lives. Herberth Herlitschka died in 1970 and Marlys in 1975.

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 Miss E. Kiesler, 1975

Note

This description was written by Gil Skidmore

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