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Hedwig Lachmann (1865–1918)

Author of English National Opera Guide : Strauss : Salome : Elektra

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Hedwig Lachmann was the eldest of six children born to a Jewish family in Stolp, Pomerania (now Słupsk, Poland). When she was a child, the family settled in Hürben in Bavarian Swabia (now Krumbach, Germany) where her father became a cantor and religious teacher. She attended the local girls’ high school and, thanks to her gift for languages, passed the language teaching examination at age 15. In 1882, she became a governess and worked in England, Germany, and Hungary. She moved to Berlin in 1889 to care for sick relatives. She became a journalist and also published translations of poems by Edgar Allan Poe. In 1899, she met Gustav Landauer, a Jewish anarchist, writer and editor, with whom she had two daughters; they were able to marry after his divorce in 1903. The couple moved to England together, but in 1902 returned to Berlin. Hedwig published a volume of poetry containing her own verses as well as translations. Her 1903 translation of Oscar Wilde’s play Salome was performed by the Max Reinhardt theater group with music by Richard Strauss. She continued to write poetry that was published in Landauer’s journal, Der Sozialist, and elsewhere. She died during the worldwide Spanish flu pandemic in 1918.
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