Speakers and Abstracts

Catherine Angerson  (British Library and Birkbeck, University of London)
Women translators of German literature and the intellectual culture of Dissent in London around 1800
This paper investigates the important role of English women translators in the reception of German literature in London around 1800. Mary Wollstonecraft, Anne Plumptre and Fanny Holcroft were members of close-knit but outward-looking dissenting networks. These women were able to develop their intellectual powers and knowledge of modern languages in order to work as professional writers and translators. Wollstonecraft propagated her own ideas about moral education in her 1791 translation of Christian Gotthilf Salzmann's Moralisches Elementarbuch. Plumptre translated German scientific and travel literature (Martin Heinrich Lichtenstein’s Reisen im südlichen Afrika), as well as seven Kotzebue plays. Holcroft travelled to Germany with her father in 1799, gaining a knowledge of the language before translating plays for the Theatrical Recorder (1805-06). I consider the significance of Unitarian beliefs and networks to the responsiveness of English women to German culture by examining how the translated texts and paratexts contributed to wider debates that were of particular concern to Dissenters. [Programme]

Maike Oergel  (The University of Nottingham)
Strained Relations? German Protestant Pastors as mediators of Anglo-German Relations around 1800
The paper focuses on the activities of two London-based German pastors, Christian Schwabe and Peter Will, who besides their pastoral duties engaged in promoting German literature and thought, while at the same time pursuing more political aims. They used their reviewing, translating and compiling of German texts generally, but especially between 1806 and 1808, as a platform to work towards creating a German-British entente by influencing public opinion in favour of political co-operation between Britain and Germany to defeat Napoleon. Their activities took place within a radicalised intellectual and political scene in Britain, in which pro- and anti-German sentiment, both politically charged, clashed, while in Germany the previously pervasive Anglophilia in liberal circles was turning into vocal denouncements of the terminal decline of British liberty. The paper illustrates the direct impact of current affairs (Napoleon's dominance, esp. following the defeat of Austria and Prussia in 1805/06 and the Spanish uprising in 1808) on cultural relations and asks what role contingent constellations (German pastors in London engaging in politics) might have played in more long-term shifts in cultural relations, i.e. the gradual reversal of cultural inspiration from 18th-c. German Anglophilia to 19th-c. English Germanophilia. [Programme]

James Raven, FBA  (University of Essex and Magdalene College, Cambridge)
John Nourse, Erik Pontoppidan and the German literary community in the Strand - and in Denmark
This paper presents a discussion of a work in progress: a 'book biography' of Erik Pontoppidan’s Natural History of Norway, published first in Danish (1752), then in German (1753), and then in English (1755), all within a three year period and published in Copenhagen and London. The London edition was printed for and sold by the German bookseller, Andrew Linde, part of the thriving German community of the Strand. The book, in a glorious, illustrated folio won a global fame (early copies were ordered by Benjamin Franklin and the Maharajah of Tangore, among others) and was promoted by John Nourse the greatest ‘enlightenment’ London bookseller of the eighteenth century. But there are tensions and paradoxes I hope to explore: Pontoppidan, friend of Holberg, aimed to preach and write in vernacular Danish (and he worked in standardising Danish and Norwegian dialect but he identified at least in part as German (he is buried in the German church) and his German edition achieved a particular circulation in distinction to the English edition, promoted in part by the German community. How did this and his legacy work out? [Programme]

Susan Reed  (British Library)
German-Language Newspapers in 19th-century London
The 19th century witnessed the gradual, if somewhat erratic, growth of a German-language press for Germans living in Britain. Although major developments only began in the mid to late 1840s, driven to a large extent by literate and engaged middle-class political exiles, there were at least two earlier attempts, Der treue Verkündiger, which ran from January 1810 to June 1811, and the Londoner deutsches Wochenblatt, which survived for a mere eight issues in 1819-20. While in many ways unlike the later papers, particularly in their lack of a community focus, there are some similarities in the approach and stated aims of these earlier ventures, and perhaps in the reasons for their failures. [Programme]

Elinor Shaffer, FBA  (Institute of Modern Languages Research at the School of Advanced Study, University of London and Clare Hall, Cambridge)
New Biographical Departures? Tradition and Revolution

James Vigus   (Queen Mary, University of London)
Wilhelm Benecke (1776-1837): Theologian and Friend of Henry Crabb Robinson
Wilhelm Benecke's heterodox commentary on the book of Romans, Der Brief Pauli an die Römer (1831) received relatively little notice when it was published in English (1854). The polymathic author and his remarkable argument regarding the pre-existence of the soul were, however, well known to the diarist Henry Crabb Robinson. Robinson annotated Der Brief Pauli and visited Benecke in Heidelberg to discuss it: this copy of the book still survives. Drawing on the biography of Benecke published by his son, and on Robinson's notes, this paper will reconstruct Benecke's path from Hamburg to South London and back to Germany, as well as his intellectual adventures. [Programme]

Maximiliaan van Woudenberg  (SIT and Clare Hall, Cambridge)
‘Göttingen is Londres en miniature’: Examining the London Zeitgeist of the Anglo-Hanoverian Communications Circuit
While the role of London as the intercultural centre of trade and knowledge with such overseas territories in America and India is well-known, the Zeitgeist of intercultural interchanges between London and Göttingen has at times been overlooked and underestimated. The personal union of Hanover with Great Britain fostered an exchange of books, knowledge, methods, specimens, and Göttingen educated scholars, who held significant posts at institutions in London during the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century. The paper starts by sketching the role of the Anglo-Hanoverian communications circuit in transforming a provincial university library into the largest collection of eighteenth-century English books outside of England. A confluence of diplomatic agents, booksellers, naturalists, botanists, professors and explorers, it was this Anglo-Hanoverian communications circuit that contributed significantly to the circulation of knowledge and scholarly activities in London. The second part of the paper specifically explores this aspect of London, through the example of J. F. Blumenbach’s successful acquisition of knowledge, specimens, and print-media, during his visit to England in 1791–1792. The paper will conclude by suggesting the implications of the Anglo-Hanoverian communications circuit on London-based Romantics, such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge. [Programme]

Last Updated: 2019-12-09