William Ashton Ellis (1852–1919) abandoned his medical career in order to devote himself to his Wagner studies. Best known for his translations of Wagner's prose works and of Carl Friedrich Glasenapp's multi-volume biography of the composer, Ellis published in 1911 this English translation of Wagner's Familienbriefe, spanning the years 1832–74. An inveterate letter writer, Wagner was the youngest-but-one of ten children and Ellis describes the character of these letters to his sisters, his mother, his brother-in-law and his nieces as a reflection of the composer in the 'driest and most neutral of lights', claiming that within the family it is impossible to be pretentious. An appendix by Glasenapp, giving brief biographical details of family members, is also included. Despite the stylistic idiosyncrasies of the translations, these letters remain of importance, capturing something of the tone of Wagner's prose style and shedding light on his extraordinary life.