The German actress Minna Planer (1809–66) was Wagner's first wife. Though it lasted until her death, their marriage, never an easy one, was punctuated by long periods of separation, and during its early years Minna was the main breadwinner. William Ashton Ellis (1852–1919) abandoned his medical career to devote himself to his Wagner studies. Best known for his translations of Wagner's prose works, he published in 1909 this collection of letters from the composer, translated from the originals in Baron Hans von Wolzogen's Richard Wagner an Minna Wagner (1908). Concerned predominantly with domestic and business affairs, many of them complaining at Minna's lack of support, the letters offer an intriguing and intimate view of this larger-than-life composer. Spanning 1842–58, Volume 1 covers the couple's period in Dresden, Wagner's hurried departure after the 1849 uprising, and the years in Zurich culminating in the relationship with Mathilde Wesendonck.