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, Ellis also translated Wagner's letters to family and friends. In this 1899 publication, most of the letters are those which Wagner wrote to the wealthy retired silk merchant Otto Wesendonck, who provided Wagner with generous financial support and whose wife, Mathilde, provided the words for the Wesendonck Lieder. Also included here are letters to the German writer Malwida von Meysenbug, who was also a friend of Nietzsche, and to the novelist Eliza Wille, at whose house in Zurich, a meeting place for the cognoscenti, Wagner was a regular guest. She later published her memories of the composer. Despite the stylistic idiosyncrasies of the translations, these letters remain of value because they capture something of the colour of Wagner's prose and personality.
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