'Faithful, All Too Faithful' by David Cormack (Part 6)


The briefest of insertions appeared in The Times’ deaths column on page 1 on Saturday 4 January: ‘ELLIS. – On the 2nd Jan., In London, WILLIAM ASHTON ELLIS, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., son of the late Robert Ellis, M.R.C.S.’ On page 3, in its ‘News In Brief’ column, above items titled ‘Six Miles Up’ (a world altitude record of 30,500ft achieved by a De Havilland Airco DH9 biplane) and ‘Burglars’ Silent Window Breaking’ (an ingenious but felonious use of ‘paper and a sticky substance’), this was expanded into a brief obituary: [377]


Dr. W. A. Ellis, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., who died in London on January 2, was a son of the late Robert Ellis, M.R.C.S. He qualified as a physician in 1878, and served as assistant [sic] medical officer at the Western Dispensary. He was a hon. life member-lecturer of the British Red Cross Society; late hon. secretary of the Association of Members of the Royal College of Surgeons, England; and assistant demonstrator in anatomy at St. George’s General Hospital. Dr. Ellis was the author [sic] of “Richard Wagner’s Prose Works” (eight vols.) and a “Life of Wagner” (six vols.), and he wrote also on the reform of the Royal College of Surgeons in the late eighties of the last century.

A similar notice was published in The Lancet on 18 January. Ellis’s will had made no reference to funeral arrangements, but knowing what we now do about Ellis, it might have been reasonable to assume that he would have expressed a preference to follow Madame Blavatsky’s example and be cremated. However enquiries to Woking, and to Golder’s Green, the next likely cremation site for the time, produced no record. Nor was Ellis buried (as Evelyn Campbell Ellis would be) at Brompton Cemetery, which might be thought to be local to the Western Dispensary. That there was a ceremony was clear from the Minutes of the Dispensary’s Committee of Management, which recorded that ‘The Chairman regretted having to report the death of Dr. Ellis, that he attended the funeral service, and had instructed the Secretary to send a floral tribute. A letter of thanks from Sir Evelyn Ellis was read.’ [378] In fact William Ashton Ellis was buried humbly on 7 January 1919 in the churchyard of Saint Nicholas, Tooting Graveney, in the borough of Wandsworth, not far from his mother’s last home in Streatham. The exact grave site is not identified. [379]

In the Dispensary’s minutes it was also noted ‘That as the R.M.O.’s rooms had been furnished by Dr. Ellis himself, the Institution would have to refurnish them.’ [380] ‘Dr.’ was a title never claimed by Ellis himself, but at his death, in The Times obituary and in the Western Dispensary’s Minutes, it was now deemed appropriate to confer it on him. In the Dispensary’s report for the year just ended 1918, a late note was inserted:

It is with very great regret that the Committee have to report the death of Dr. Wm. Ashton Ellis, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P.(Lond), who took up the post of Resident Medical Officer of this Institution in March, 1915, in order to assist the Committee at a time when it was difficult to obtain Medical Officers, owing to the claims made on the profession by the War. Dr. Ellis served the office of Resident Medical Officer as long ago as from 1878 to 1886 [sic].

From 1887 (in fact) to 1915 William Ashton Ellis served another cause. In his 1928 memoirs the now almost forgotten Louis Napoleon Parker, who had known him since the days of The Meister, came close to an epitaph for Ellis:

Here was the archetype of the out-and-out Wagnerian; here was one who had merged his soul and mind in Wagner. He had given up a good medical practice and all the interests and joys of life in order to devote his whole energies, and all his considerable attainments, to the work of elucidating Wagner for English-speaking people. [381]

This was a moderated version of the embarrassingly fulsome speech Parker had made on 2 October 1910 when the new Wagner Association elected Hans Richter and William Ashton Ellis its first members honoris causâ:

Mr Ashton Ellis, as you know, has devoted his whole life, every working – every waking – moment of his life, to Wagner. In the pursuit of his aim he has deliberately given up a lucrative profession; he has lived the life of a recluse; he has absorbed himself utterly in his work and in his study; he has surrounded himself, body, soul, mind, and intellect, to Wagner, with a passion far transcending that of a lover for his mistress. He is the present-day representative of those astonishing figures who loom so largely in Wagner’s history, who were willing to sacrifice, and did sacrifice, health, wealth, position, friendship, everything which men value, including self, in his service. He is one of the very few men in England who have really done something for Wagner; something so great, so self-less that we find difficulty in understanding it; that we can only admire and pass on. The doing has been his only reward.

And Parker would draw us, in our twenty-first century, into his encomium:

By-and-by, years hence, long after our time, when the figure of Wagner has become mythical, and people go about trying to find out what manner of man he was, they will suddenly re-discover that long series of volumes to which Mr Ashton Ellis’s name is attached, and they will find in them an inexhaustible mine out of which they will be able to re-constitute the real Wagner, physically and mentally, down to the minutest detail, and to recover his life moment by moment. Then the reward will come. But posthumous honours are of little service to their recipient, and it is we, who wonderingly look at Ashton Ellis’s superb enthusiasm and untiring labour, who must consider it a great privilege to say to him, “Well done.” [382]

If Parker’s extravagant hyperbole (‘far transcending that of a lover for his mistress’) and that final bathetic ‘Well done’ were intentional, one can only hope that Ellis’s myopia allowed him to overlook them in his moment of glory. Posterity would deal with him rather more cruelly. ‘I had some acquaintance with Mr. Ellis,’ wrote William Henry Hadow a quarter of a century later, ‘indeed I reviewed one or two of his volumes when they appeared, and the impression that he left upon me was one of immense industry, and of integrity on indifferent topics entirely spoiled by a fanaticism which coloured almost every judgment and overcame every scruple.’ [383]



Four previously unpublished letters by Léonie and Ferdinand Praeger in the archive of the Royal Philharmonic Society, reproduced by kind permission of the British Library (RPS MS 359, ff.175, 177, 179, 181). [384]



[To William Watts (1778-1859), emeritus past secretary, 1816-1847, of the Philharmonic Society][385]

31 Milton Street

Dorset Square

[undated: Friday 2 March 1855]

Dear Sir

Mr Praeger is at Brighton since yesterday evening and does not return before Saturday evening, so I think it is better for me to answer your note. We do not know when Herr R. Wagner is coming; we expect him every day as in his last letter [386] he said he would be in London the first, or in the first days of March; you will find him here as he will stay with us at first and as soon as he is in London Mr Praeger will let you know.

Believe me dear Sir

Yours very respectfully

Léonie Praeger

Friday morning

[in another hand:] Mr Praeger, 2 March 1855



[To George Hogarth (1783-1870), secretary of the Philharmonic Society, 1850-1864]

Saturday morning [3 March 1855]

My dear Sir

I have just arrived from Brighton to find /in a letter from R. Wagner, that he will be here tomorrow late night, & consequently ready for action on Monday next, thereby coming up to his promise of being a week before the first performance. [387]

By the way I must mention a fact of which perhaps you may not have become aware, viz. Spohr, the most orthodox judge found Wagner’s score of the Flying Dutchman without knowing anything of the composer – he was so delighted that he had the opera performed at Cassel forthwith, since then he has had the Tannhäuser done and lately wrote to Wagner for the score of Lohengrin. I can answer for that fact, Wagner does not care a straw about this nor his detractors and I mention it only “en passant” not being a Wagnerite, having never heard his operas yet.

In London he will stay at my humble little house until he has had time to find suitable apartments.

Believe me dear Sir Yours very truly

Ferdinand Praeger

G. Hogarth, Esq.



[To William George Cusins (1833-1893), conductor of the Philharmonic, 1867-1883]


4 Bradmore Park Terrace

New Road, Shepherd’s Bush, W.

My dear Sir!

I have been repeatedly asked by eminent musicians (I dislike citing “big” names) who saw my scores – why I, of such long standing in London – never had anything performed at the Phil.c ["c" superior].

I of course told them that I never was asked & never myself asked – I was accused of pride & to show that it’s not that I had to tell what everyone knows – that viz: my pioneer enthusiasm for R. Wagner 23 years ago – closed all doors to me by the virulent attacks of the press against me – now they sing “another tune” & to cut this long story short & come to a point I beg to offer some of my scores (not of great pretension or of length) for performance at the Philharmonic Socy. – mentioning that a “Manfred Overture” of mine has been done at Berlin lately at the Symphony-Kapelle (the least there) & retained for a second performance, they are going to [word indecipherable] me too to the Crystal Pal/ce ["ce" superior]. [388] I leave it in your hands!

Believe me

Dear Sir

Yours sincerely

Ferdinand Praeger

G. Cusins, Esq.


[To the Directors of the Philharmonic Society]


23 Brackenburg Road W.

12 January 1881


As the Philharmonic Season is nigh at hand I venture to bring to your notice with some degree of confidence the several orchestral compositions composed by me some of which have been performed in Germany, Birmingham and at the Crystal Palace, & now Mr. Theodore Thomas writes from New York stating that he purposes producing one or two during his approaching season. As in my judgement that they are eminently fitted to be heard by the cultured audiences of the Philharmonic I trust that my request to be heard will be favourably entertained & that I might be permitted to forward you either one of those already performed or a new work.

Believe me, Gentlemen

Yours sincerely

Ferdinand Praeger

The Directors

of the Philharmonic Society


© David Cormack (all rights reserved) 2014



1 This study originated as two articles published as long ago as September 1993 and May 1994 in the (London) Wagner Society’s now defunct journal Wagner 14/3 and 15/2; they were much improved by the encouragement and scrutiny of its then editor Stewart Spencer. Patrick Swinkels afterwards published a partially revised online version in his ‘Wagner Library’ website (still accessible but apparently no longer being developed) at The present text updates, corrects and supersedes all earlier versions.

2 The Times, 19 February 1883. On Julius Cyriax: see Barbara Eichner and Guy Houghton, ‘Rose Oil and Pineapples: Julius Cyriax’s Friendship with Wagner and the Early Years of the London Wagner Society’, The Wagner Journal, 1/2 (2007), 19-49. On Mr Hatton: though the entry in the Dictionary of National Biography for John Liptrot Hatton (1809-1886) mentions only two daughters, he also had two sons, ostentatiously christened together on 3 July 1856 as Johann Sebastian (b.1853, d. before 1911) and George Frederick (1856-1918). The mourner was undoubtedly the elder son, ‘Johnny’. He had been a violinist in the orchestra for Wagner’s concerts at the Albert Hall in May 1877. (See the letter from his father to Robert Thallon (1816-82), 30 April 1877, offered for sale by Julian Browning Autographs,, accessed on 24 August 2013.) On Godfrey Henry Thornton (1856-fl.1906): he was a member of the London branch of the Wagner Society and of the Theosophical Society, and was ‘late Lieut. 1st. Life Guards’, according to the 1881 census. He won joint third prize at the sporting dogs exhibition at Olympia, Kensington, with his Great Dane bitch by the name of Ortrud, according to The Times of 27 April 1887. A letter from him is indexed in the Mathilde Wesendonck Nachlass in the Zurich Stadtarchiv ( Dated as from Munich, 2 March 1886, it is described as in English, ‘content without significance’. According to James Money, Capri: Island of Pleasure (London, 1987; ebook edition 2012), Thornton abandoned a brief military career for a wayward and sybaritic life, during which he is said to have taken lessons with Clara Schumann. He was declared bankrupt in absentia in London in 1906. The date and place of his death are unknown.

3 George Ainslie Hight, in Richard Wagner: A Critical Biography II (London 1925), 251. Hight suggests that Ellis and Thornton sent separate tributes. There is no evidence they knew one another.

4 William Ashton Ellis, Richard Wagner, as Poet, Musician and Mystic, Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts (London 1887), 4.The ‘band of German musicians’ comprised Angelo Neumann’s Touring Wagner Theatre, coincidentally in Venice, who played their tribute on the Grand Canal on 19 April 1883.

5 William Ashton Ellis, ‘Translator’s Preface’, Richard Wagner’s Prose Works I (London 1892), xiii-xiv. Ironically, this preface, including its ‘Pfeffermühle voll Kommas, Semikolons, Kolons und Punkten’, would be translated into German, in the Bayreuther Blätter, XVI/5-6, (May 1893), 161-7.

6 Francis Hueffer, ‘Translator’s Preface’ to the Correspondence of Wagner and Liszt (London 1888), I, xxiii-xxiv (cited from the second edition, London 1897). The first German edition had appeared in 1887. William Ashton Ellis oversaw the 1897 English edition and added an index and some corrections, without revising Hueffer’s translation.

7 Selected Letters of Richard Wagner, trans. and ed. Stewart Spencer and Barry Millington (London 1987), viii.

8 The Family Letters of Richard Wagner, trans. William Ashton Ellis [1911]. Enlarged edition with introduction and notes by John Deathridge (London 1991), xlii-xliii (Deathridge’s introduction).

9 Ernest Newman launched it in his Fact and Fiction About Wagner (London 1931), in large part to refute the errors and insinuations of the American journalists Philip Dutton Hurn and Waverley Lewis Root in The Truth About Wagner (London, 1930).

10 Ernest Newman to Elbert Lenrow, letter of 22 August 1930, cited in John Deathridge, ‘A Brief History of Wagner Research’, in the Wagner Handbook, ed. Ulrich Muller and Peter Wapnewski (Cambridge, Mass. 1992), 205. The full text of the letter is given in Lenrow’s introduction to his edition of The Letters of Richard Wagner to Anton Pusinelli (New York 1932), xix-xx, where Newman goes even further: ‘I doubt whether there is a single one of us who, in similar circumstances, would not act very much as Cosima and the others did in the early years after 1883. […] I am not inclined now to condemn them all as criminals for their little concealments and manipulations; they have merely been human.’

11 Patrick Carnegy, Wagner and the Art of the Theatre (New Haven and London 2006). Reaction may be setting in: Raymond Furness, echoing Roger Scruton, has recently expressed a yearning for a return to a ‘truthful’ style such as the 2001 Seattle Ring: ‘[B]earskins and horned helmets may be out, but so should computers, dustbins, swastikas, sex shops and sundry vulgarity.’ Raymond Furness, Richard Wagner (London, 2013), 202.

12 See John W. Barker’s Wagner and Venice (Rochester NY, 2008) and especially his Wagner and Venice Fictionalized (Rochester NY, 2012).

13 The modern English language reappraisal began with Thomas S. Grey’s Wagner’s Musical Prose (Cambridge, 1995), though around the same time Michael Tanner's Wagner (London, 1996) sought to minimise the significance of the Prose Works. Since then, important new English translations of The Artwork of the Future, by Emma Warner (The Wagner Journal, 2013), and Beethoven, by Roger Allen (Woodbridge/Rochester NY, 2014) have appeared; in his preface, Roger Allen is unexpectedly gracious about Ellis's translations. Cambridge University Press has recently announced its intention to reprint Ellis's translations of the letters to Minna, the Letters to Wesendonck et al., the Family Letters, and the Letters to Emil Heckel.

14 Stewart Spencer, ‘Collected Writings’, in The Wagner Compendium, ed. Barry Millington (London 1992), 196.

15 Wagner Handbook, 638-651. ‘PW’ is now the standard bibliographic abbreviation for references to Ellis’s translation. In 1902 Ellis announced that he was altering his own cross-referential abbreviation for the Prose Works from P.W. to simply P., ‘not out of deference to the humorous protestation of a critic that “P.W.” is the recognised abbreviation for Pearson’s Weekly, but to economise space.’[!] William Ashton Ellis, Life of Richard Wagner II (London 1902), 7.

16 Wagner on Music and Drama: a selection from Richard Wagner’s prose works, arranged and with an introduction by Albert Goldman and Evert Sprinchorn, translated by H. Ashton Ellis (London 1970, originally published New York 1964, subsequent editions 1977 and 1992).

17 Dieter Borchmeyer, Richard Wagner, Theory and Theatre [1982], trans. Stewart Spencer (London 1991), ‘Translator’s Foreword’, un-numbered page v. Though the same translator re-translates Wagner’s prose ‘afresh’ and does not consider textual references to Ellis ‘useful’, cross-references to the Ellis Prose Works are still included in the chronological ‘Catalog of Wagner’s Writings’ in Jean-Jacques Nattiez’ Wagner Androgyne [1990] (Princeton, NJ 1993), 303, ‘for the sake of convenience’. A highly critical contemporary view of Ellis's translations can be found at!/2012/02/appalling-state-of-english-translation.html. Its author, whose nom-de-blog is the old cryptogram 'Sator Arepo', concludes: 'Indeed, this Nazification of Wagner's thinking long after his death possibly has English origins in the wilful and malicious violation of Wagner's writings that occurs in the Ellis "translations". - It simply highlights one fact: never trust a single world [sic] of any English translations of Wagner's prose works by Ellis or anyone remotely associated with Chamberlain. You must always go back to the Urtext.'

18 Ernest Newman, The Life of Richard Wagner II (London 1936), 564-5n. Newman’s references are to Cosima Wagner und Houston Stewart Chamberlain im Briefwechsel 1888-1908, ed. Paul Pretzsch (Leipzig 1934), 354 [‘Es bleibe mir der gute Ashton Ellis! aber – aber ach! das ist ein trauriges Kapitel. Erst habe ich seine Arbeit als Übersetzer untersucht und halte sie für eine wahre Kalamität.’], and 363 [‘Kein Engländer, der Deutsch nicht kann, versteht diesen Ellischen Stil. Bezuglich der Treue ist übrigens Ellis dem Worte wohl treu, allzu treu, dem Sinne aber durchaus nicht.’]. Cosima relied upon Chamberlain’s estimate, as an (ex-)Englishman, of Ellis’s worth as prophet in another country. See also Geoffrey G. Field, Evangelist of Race: the Germanic Vision of Houston Stewart Chamberlain (New York 1981), 137-8.

19 Ellis, ‘Translator’s Preface’ to the Prose Works I (1895), vii.

20 My earlier versions of the above list included an indexed 1894 ‘article in the New York Review of Reviews’ entitled Wagner and Grieg, which indeed appeared in the April 1894 issue of that journal. But I subsequently found it was also published simultaneously in its British parent version under the title ‘Wagner and His Critics: Replies by Mr. W. Ashton Ellis.’ This wasn’t an article by Ellis but a short précis (presumably by the editor W.T. Stead) of Ellis’s disparaging remarks on Grieg in The Meister of 13 February 1894. See the Review of Reviews (London), IX, 270.

21 The merest clue Ellis himself gave publicly about his age was his statement that ‘In 1885 Mr Praeger was aged 70, as we are informed by himself, and I – well, less than half that.’ (William Ashton Ellis, Life of Richard Wagner V (1906), 377.) The American scholar Anne Dzamba Sessa researched Ellis’s work extensively for her seminal Richard Wagner and the English (Cranbury, NJ, 1979), but she was still guessing at 1853 for his birth year in ‘At Wagner’s Shrine: British and American Wagnerians’, in Wagnerism in European Culture and Politics, ed. David C. Large and William Weber (Ithaca, NY 1984), 268.

22 After twenty years of searching I obtained the signed portrait photograph (reproduced here) in August 2013 through the catalogue of the Antiquariat und Verlag Prof. Dr. Hans Schneider OHG, Tutzing. The cabinet photo was made by the studio of Hughes & Mullins, Ryde, Isle of Wight, and is dated ‘Oct. 3. 1889’. The back of the photo has the stamp of ‘Doct. E. Henrotin, 10 Rue Paul Spaak, Bruxelles.’ He may have been Dr E. Henrotin, connected with medical education in Brussels; Dr Edmond Henrotin, photographic collector associated with Baudelaire; or Edmond Maximiliaan Clement Henrotin (d. 1894), captain-commandant of artillery, who married the painter Marie Collart (1842-1911) in 1871.

23 ‘Colonel Richard George Gregson Ellis, aged 65, director of the Ruthin mineral water firm, collapsed and died suddenly at Rhyl Station yesterday as he was climbing the bridge stairs.’ (The Times, 28 August 1920.) He had been an executor of Robert Ellis (senior)’s will.

24 It’s likely he was the Robert Ellis, ‘a young chemist’ at University College, London, whose paper ‘On a New Method of Testing Arsenic’ appeared in The Lancet for 11 November and 23 December 1843.

25 For details of Charles Bagley Uther’s connection with the firm of Forsyth & Co., see W. Keith Neal and D.H.L. Back, Forsyth & Co.: Patent Gunmakers (London 1969). The Rev. Alexander Forsyth (1769-1843) developed the percussion lock eventually adopted in place of the flintlock by the British army in the 1840s, but after handing his firm over to Uther he returned to the parish of Belhelvie in Aberdeenshire to succeed his father as minister. Uther had to protect the firm’s assets. In 1850 he testified in the Old Bailey after a number of guns and pistols, valued at £130, were stolen during a break-in at 8 Leicester Street. A nineteen-year-old culprit Joseph Brooks was convicted and sentenced to seventeen years transportation. (See

26 Report of the Consistory Court, Monday 27 November 1826, in The Times the following day.

27 Mary Ann Eliza’s brother Charles returned to England and married Friderika Wilhelmina Angelbauer, from Schorndorf, Württemberg, in Chelsea in 1874. He died in Chelsea aged 73 in 1896. Mary Ann Eliza Ellis's will of 1898 made provision for her widowed sister-in-law but Friderika died aged 68 the following year, in Battle, Sussex.

28 William Ashton Ellis, ‘Wagner and Schopenhauer’, in The Fortnightly Review, LXV (new series), 427 (March 1, 1899).

29 Letter to Shaw of 14 December 1904 cited in David Cormack, ‘“Or is he a mere translator?” Bernard Shaw’s Agitation for William Ashton Ellis’s Civil List Pension’, in Wagner, 23/2 (October 2002), 88. The Uther name itself was not quite extinct, as we shall see.

30 The dispensary was founded in 1812 with the support of William Wilberforce. It was demolished in 1902.

31 See the entry for Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910) in the Dictionary of National Biography (Supplement January 1901-December 1911 (London [1976]), 180-2; John Morley, Death, Heaven and the Victorians (London 1991), 96-9; and Reginald Blunt, An Illustrated Historical Handbook to the Parish of Chelsea (London 1900), 148-9. For references to Jane Austen and earlier occupants of 62, 63 and 64 Sloane Street, see Thea Holme, Chelsea (London 1972), 128, 132 and 133.

32 S.P.C.K., Minutes of the General Literature Committee, 20 October 1848, kindly copied by the Archivist and Librarian, Dr. Gordon Huelin, F.S.A.

33 The Correspondence of William Henry Fox Talbot, ed. Larry J. Schaaf, on-line edition at

34 Robert Ellis, Disease in Childhood (London 1852), 3 and 5. In the same year Ellis also published a 23-page pamphlet On a New Method of Treating Certain Diseases of the Cervix Uteri (London 1852). On 9 November 1853 the Times reported the publication in London of Robert Ellis’s Childhood in Health and Disease […] adapted for the Use of Young and Inexperienced Mothers.

34 Disease in Childhood, 162-3 and 170.

36 The Lancet, 15 February 1862.

37 Among other Lancet articles by Ellis were: ‘Phases of the uterine ulcer’ (6 July, 27 July, 24 August, 2 November and 9 November 1861); ‘Mr. Ellis’s apparatus for electric cauterization’ (21 December 1861); ‘Radical cure of prolapsus uteri (24 December 1864); ‘On anaesthesia by mixed vapours’ (10 February, 12 May 1866); and ‘On a new system of abscess drainage by spiral wire tubes (24 July 1869). In 1868 the Transactions of the Obstetrical Society of London published illustrated descriptions of his ‘new expanding speculum’ and ‘self-retaining tenaculum’ (IX, 86-89).

38 Drawn from his articles on anaesthesia in The Lancet of 10 February, 12 May, 30 June and 25 August 1866. An example of his inhaler is in the Wellcome Institute collection in the Science Museum in London, exhibit ref. A625282.

39 The National Society for the Promotion of Education of the Poor opened its teacher training college for women at Whitelands House, Kings Road, Chelsea, in 1842. John Ruskin was a benefactor. In 1931 the college moved to Putney, where it is now part of the Roehampton Institute. The Hans Town School of Industry was founded around 1804 and moved to new premises at 103 Sloane Street in 1849. It prepared girls aged 8 to 16 (many of them orphans) for entering domestic service. It closed in 1886.

40 See ‘The Catalogue’s Account of Itself’ in Household Words, 23 August 1852. Chimborazo is Ecuador’s highest peak (6,310m), thought at the time to be the highest point on the plaet.

41 See the Official Descriptive and Illustrative Catalogue to the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations, 1851, I, preface v-vi and 82-7. For Robert Ellis’s publications generally, see the British Library catalogue entries for him, and his entry in the Biographisches Lexikon der hervorragenden Ärtzte aller Zeiten und Völker, eds. Wilhelm Haberling, Franz Hübotter and Hermann Vierordt, II (Berlin 1930), 402.

42 Information kindly provided by the Linnean Society’s Librarian and Archivist, Gina Douglas.

43 Surrey Advertiser, 1 December 1866. The paper regaled its genteel Surrey readership with sensational stories culled from sources far and wide in a manner too familiar today. The original report of ‘The Crinoline Tragedy’ appeared in The Times on 27 November 1866.

44 The Times, 25 April 1873.

45 The Times, 25 January, 3 February and 20 February 1871.

46 The Times, 4 May 1877.

47 The Times, 14 June 1877.

48 ‘Translator’s Preface’ to the Family Letters, vi (1911 edition) and l (1991 edition).

49 Her death notice in The Times for 1 August 1936 reads: ‘On July 30, 1936, at Porlock, ADA MATILDA ELLIS, eldest daughter and last surviving child of the late Dr. Robert Ellis, of Sloane Street.’

50 Robert Uther Ellis married Frances Eleanor Sprange on 19 December 1871. He was entered on the Dentists’ Register on 24 December 1878 at 32 Lisson Grove, Marylebone. As a widower, he married again (in a Catholic ceremony) Annie Elizabeth Watson, ten years his junior, on 3 June 1884. A son by one of his marriages, also called Robert Uther Ellis, died in St Thomas, Ontario, Canada, in 1907. Robert Uther Ellis was last registered as a dentist in 1910. He died on 22 March 1921, aged 73.

51 For outline details of Ellis’s education see ‘Official Appointments and Notices’ in The Times, 3 September 1872; Frederic H. Forshall, Westminster School Past and Present (London 1884), 385; G.F. Russell Barker and Alan H. Stenning, The Record of Old Westminsters I (London 1928), 310; and R.R. James, St George’s Pupils’ Register (Royal College of Surgeons, London 1931), entry number 5010. Among the same intake at St George’s (entry number 5008) was Francis Darwin (1848-1925), son of Charles Darwin.

52 Though born in Strasbourg and fluent in German, Dannreuther learned English from the age of two in Cincinnati (where his father had a piano factory), before coming to England in 1863. He was naturalised a British subject in 1871.

53 Edward Dannreuther, Richard Wagner: His Tendencies and Theories (London 1873), 1 and 104 (reissued in revised form as Wagner and the Reform of the Opera in 1904).

54 From 1867 the so-called ‘Working Men’s Society’made ‘quiet unobtrusive propaganda’ in London for Wagner and Liszt. Besides Dannreuther the other members were Karl Klindworth, Frits Hartvigson, Walter Bache, Alfred James Hipkins and Walter Kumpel. See Constance Bache, Brother Musicians: Reminiscences of Edward and Walter Bache (London 1901), 197-201. As Liszt explained to Hans von Bülow on 3 August 1863: ‘Bache: prononcez à l’anglais: Bätsch.’ See Briefwechsel zwischen Franz Liszt und Hans von Bülow, ed. La Mara [Ida Marie Lipsius, 1837-1927] (Leipzig 1898), 316.

55 See David Cormack, ‘Our English Monster-man’, The Wagner Journal, 7/3 (November 2013), 4-5.

56 On the London Parsifal bells, see David Cormack, ‘Parsifal as English Oratorio’, The Musical Times, 148/1898 (Spring 2007), 89-90.

57 Especially his lengthy entry on ‘Wagner’, in George Grove (ed.), A Dictionary of Music and Musicians IV (London 1890), 346-74.

58 Alexander William Crawford Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford and 8th Earl of Balcarres, born 16 October 1812 in Muncaster Castle, Yorkshire, educated at Eton and Trinity College Cambridge. Died 13 December 1880 in Villa Palmieri, Florence, Italy. His embalmed body was entombed on 29 December 1880 in the vault of the mortuary chapel he had built at Dunecht House, Aberdeenshire. It was later stolen, recovered, and reinterred in Wigan – another ancestral seat - in 1882. See David Cormack, ‘Of Earls and Egypt: founders of the first London Wagner Societies’, The Musical Times, 150/1907 (Summer 2009), 27-42, esp. 27-30.

59 Manchester Guardian, 16 March 1872 Wagner had authorised the Patronatscheine (patrons’ certificates) in a letter to Dannreuther of 9 January 1873. At this date the foundation-stone of the Bayreuth Festspielhaus had not yet been laid. As we have seen, later that same year Dannreuther anticipated the Ring Festival in 1874. In 1874 itself Hueffer would write that ‘at the present moment the realisation of the scheme at Bayreuth in the spring of 1875 seems no longer doubtful’: Richard Wagner and the Music of the Future (London 1874), 99-100. The deferrals can hardly have assisted the London Wagner Society’s fundraising efforts. Its treasurer was John Simeon Bergheim (1844-1912). He was born in ‘Turkey in Asia’ (1901 census; in Jerusalem – 1881 census), naturalised British in 1871, domiciled between Vienna and London, innovative photographer, civil engineer and international oil and petroleum entrepreneur. He died following a motor car accident near Ripley, Surrey, on 10 September 1912. He probably deserves a thorough biography, though Mary Shenai’s Finding the Bergheims of Belsize Court (London 2007) is a fine example of local history research which includes the Bergheims’ encouragement of Anton Rubinstein during his visits to London.

60 See The Times, 12 November 1873. According to Dannreuther himself, ‘The London Wagner Society’s Orchestral Concerts took place Feb. 19, 27, May 9, Nov. 14, Dec. 12, 1873; and Jan. 23, Feb. 13, March 13, May 13, 1874.’ See ‘Wagner’, in Grove IV (1890), 363n.

61 William Ashton Ellis, Life of Richard Wagner V (London 1906), 376-7.

62 The Meister, V/20 (14 November 1892), 100-1.

63 Undated [1877] autograph note on a subscription form from Dannreuther to J.W. Davison, in the possession of the present writer. The Albert Hall concert promoters Hodge & Essex remitted £700 to Bayreuth. Wagner returned the £561 raised through Dannreuther’s appeal. See Hueffer, Half a Century of Music in England 1837-1887, 76-78.

64 Minutes of the Committee of Management of the Western Dispensary, 18 September 1878. Hereafter referred to as ‘Minutes’, they are in the keeping of the library of the Royal College of Physicians (Reference code: GB 0113 MS-WESTERN).

65 In 1881 the philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts (1814-1906), possessing inherited wealth said to be second only to Queen Victoria, married her secretary William Lehman Ashmead Bartlett (1851-1921), born a British subject in New Brunswick, USA. 37 years her junior, he took her surname. He was an elected MP for Westminster from 1885 until his death.

66 In 1989 it became a residential nursing home called Kent House, whose 1996 prospectus gives the Dispensary’s 1899 staffing and attendance figures.

67 J.E. Smith, St. John the Evangelist, Westminster: Parochial Memorials (London 1892), 503-5

68 The quarterly Westminster, 1/7 (1 June 1897), documented the history of the Western Dispensary in a series entitled ‘Local Institutions’, though Ellis is not mentioned by name.

69 Minutes, 15 February 1882.

70 Ernest Newman, The Life of Richard Wagner IV (London 1947), 665 (Cassell edition).

71 William Ashton Ellis, Life of Richard Wagner V (1906), 376.

72 Supplement published with the Bayreuther Blätter, VIII/1 (January 1885). On Armbruster see David Cormack, ‘“A Bayreuth Extension Lecturer”: Carl Armbruster’s Music in the Park’, The Musical Times, 152/1914 (Spring 2011), 61-86.

73 On Carrie Pringle see Stewart Spencer’s article ‘Er starb, - ein Mensch wie alle’, in the programme-book for the 2004 Bayreuth Festival, 73-85, reprinted in Wagner, 25/2 (September 2004), 55-77, and additional research by the present author in ‘“Wir welken und sterben dahinnen” – Carrie Pringle and the solo Flowermaidens of 1882’, The Musical Times, 147/1890 (Spring 2005), 16-31; ‘English Flowermaidens (and other transplants) at Bayreuth’, The Musical Times, 150/1908 (Winter 2009), 95-102; 'In the shadow of La Sphinx Cosima', The Musical Times, [forthcoming].

74 William Ashton Ellis, Richard Wagner, as Poet, Musician and Mystic, Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts (London 1887), 4.

75 Angelo Neumann (trans. Edith Livermore), Personal Recollections of Wagner (London 1909), 284-5.

76 Francis Hueffer, Half a Century of Music in England 1837-1887 (London 1889), 68. Hueffer refers to ‘the foundation of the first Wagner Society in 1873’, but it was in March 1872 that Dannreuther announced its 1873 programme of fundraising concerts for Bayreuth.

77 For Mosely’s biographical details see David Cormack, ‘Of Earls and Egypt: founders of the first London Wagner Societies’, The Musical Times 150/1907 (Summer 2009), 27-42 (esp. 30-42).

78 ‘Im Wahnfried-Archiv befindet sich ein Brief von Dr. L. Mosely.’ Cosima Wagner (eds. Martin Gregor-Delling and Dietrich Mack), Die Tagebücher, ii (Munich and Zurich 1977), 1184.

79 I am grateful to Kristina Unger of the Richard-Wagner-Museum in Bayreuth for searching the archive and supplying a photocopy. The German editors of Cosima’s Diaries speculated oddly in their notes (i, 1162) that her entry for 9 November 1870 (‘Todesanzeige eines Freundes, Mosonyi aus Pest’) might be a reference to ‘D.L. Mosely’ when it was clearly a reference to the composer Mihály Mosonyi (1814-1870).

80 Julius Cyriax’s report on 24 March 1884 to Glasenapp, cited in Barbara Eichner and Guy Houghton, ‘Rose Oil and Pineapples: Julius Cyriax’s Friendship with Wagner and the Early Years of the London Wagner Society’ in The Wagner Journal, I, 2 (July 2007), 33 (translation slightly altered).

81 The Times, 20 March 1884. A similar advertisement on 8 March gave the name as ‘B.L. Moseley’, not for the first or last time.

82 Julius Cyriax cited in Barbara Eichner and Guy Houghton, ‘Rose Oil and Pineapples’, 33.

83 Louis N. Parker, ‘Lettre d’Angleterre’, La Revue Wagnérienne, 8 May 1886, 119n.

84 La Revue Wagnérienne, 8 June 1886, 176; cf. Alan Walker, Franz Liszt, Volume 3, The Final Years, 1861-1886 (London 1997), 494, which notes that a ‘valedictory address’ was given to Liszt on 17 April 1886 at the Crystal Palace on behalf of ‘the London Branch of the Richard Wagner Society’, but doesn’t mention by whom.

85 La Revue Wagnérienne, 8 February 1886, 32, and 8 July 1885, 181.

86 Notice of a General Meeting of the Richard Wagner Society (London Branch) to be held on 25 January 1888 (copy in the archive of the Richard-Wagner-Museum, kindly made available by Kristina Unger). This shows that Mosely made a donation that year to branch funds of £1.8s. and of £5 to the Bayreuth Patronats-Verein, similar sums being donated to the latter by Walter Bache, Julius Cyriax, Avigdor Birnstingl, ‘A Friend of J. Cyriax, Esq.’, Dr. H.J. Plimmer, G. and A. Hartmann, Stuart Daniel, Frank Schuster and C. Westrow Hulse. Commensurate with his aristocracy, the Earl of Dysart donated £10 and £50 respectively. This Patronats-Verein, described as ‘a league, founded in 1885, for the purpose of perpetuating the representations of the Festival Plays at Bayreuth’, seems to have been a successor to the one wound up (to Cyriax’s annoyance) by Wagner in 1881. G.H. Thornton and a Mrs. Castle also donated £50 to it.

87 The Meister, 2/6 (22 May 1889), 71.

88 Ibidem.

89 Louis N. Parker, Several of My Lives (London 1928), 129. Born at Luc-sur-Mer, Calvados, in Normandy, to an American father and English mother, Louis Napoleon Parker (1852-1944) was given his forenames by the French villagers who looked after his sickly mother in her husband’s (typical) absence, and had the child christened in a hurry as they thought him unlikely to live. After an early musical and teaching career he became a playwright and pageant-creator. He retained his US citizenship until he was naturalised British, patriotically, on 8 June 1914.

90 The Times, 22 January 1889.

91 The letter (in the Bayreuth archives) is cited in Eichner and Houghton, ‘Rose Oil and Pineapples’, 37.

92 Mosely continues to be recorded at 55 Tavistock Square in the 1881 and 1891 censuses. The site, like that of Leonard and Virginia Woolf at number 52, suffered bomb damage during the Second World War, and is now occupied by the Tavistock Hotel.

93 Information from Mosely’s birth certificate (registered 1 January 1852); census returns; Michael Jolles, A Directory of Distinguished British Jews, 1830-1930 (London 2000), 124; and Doreen Berger (ed.), The Jewish Victorian: Genealogical Information from the Jewish Newspapers 1871-1880 (Witney 1999), 407-8. I am also grateful to Hannah Baker, Assistant Archivist at the Middle Temple, and Theresa Thom, Librarian of Gray’s Inn, who helped to establish that Mosely was not called to the Bar at Middle Temple as stated in Joseph Foster’s Men-at-the-Bar: A Biographical Handlist of the Members of the Various Inns of Court (London 1885), but at Gray’s Inn

94 The full title reads: Guide to the Legend Poem and Music of Richard Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde by Hans von Wolzogen. Translated and illustrated with extracts from Swinburne’s Tristram of Lyonesse etc. by B.L. Mosely, LL.B., Barrister-at-Law. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel. London: J. & A. Schulz-Curtius. 174, New Bond Street, W. Mosely’s footnote is at 10n. Another edition appeared in 1902. Hans von Wolzogen published the third edition of his Thematischer Leitfaden durch die Musik zu Richard Wagners´s Tristan und Isolde in 1888. The British Library’s catalogue has Tristan und Isolde. Ein Leitfaden durch Sage, Dichtung und Musik (Leipzig 1880), but doesn’t help by confusing here and elsewhere Hans Paul von Wolzogen (1848-1938) with his half-brother Ernst Ludwig von Wolzogen (1855-1934).

95 Proceedings of the Musical Association, eighth session, 1 May 1882, 164.

96 Praeger in Wagner as I Knew Him (London 1892), 293-4; Ellis in The Meister, V/18 (22 May 1892), 62; Chamberlain in the Bayreuther Blätter, XVI/7 (1893), 235n. Chamberlain refers to an 1884 edition of Wolzogen’s Leitfaden durch die Musik zu Tristan and clearly identifies Mosely as the translator.

97 Cited in the Notebook of the Shelley Society: The First Performance of Shelley’s Tragedy, The Cenci (London 1887, ‘Printed for Private Distribution’). The British Library’s catalogue includes Mosely’s settings of ‘By the Rivers of Babylon’ (1875) and ‘Slumber Song’ (1888). The Cenci (though apparently not in Shelley’s version) received full operatic treatment when Alberto Ginastera’s Beatrix Cenci was premiered in Washington in 1971.

98 Also ‘Printed for private distribution’ but reprinted in Theatre, 1 May 1885, 225-230.

99 See Ginger Suzanne Frost, Promises Broken – Courtship, Class, and Gender in Victorian England (Charlottesville and London 1995), 146.

100 National Archives, Kew, Divorce Court File J77/455.

101 See Vivien Allen, Hall Caine. Portrait of a Victorian Romancer (Sheffield 1997), 322.

102 See G. Spiller (ed.), Papers on Inter-Racial Problems Communicated to the First Universal Races Congress (London and Boston 1911), xiii and xviii. Other notable representatives at the Congress included W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963) of the US National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies (1855-1936).

103 See for instance the account of The Times’ ‘special correspondent’ of the ‘New Types of Players at the Tables’, 24 March 1916: ‘Yet amid the turmoil of the great world war somnolent peace prevails throughout this miniature kingdom.’

104 Death notice in The Times, 19 July 1916. Probate documents in the National Archives at Kew, ref. FO 841/178. His death listing in Cyrus Adler (ed.), American Jewish Year Book 5677 (Philadelphia 1916), 324, described him as ‘Mosley [sic], B.L., barrister, formerly judge of Native Tribunals in Cairo’.

105 Mosely’s Last Will and Testament, third codicil dated 22 September 1909. See also The Times, ‘Wills and Bequests’, 10 October 1916.

106 Francis Hueffer, Parsifal: An Attempt at an Analysis (London 1884).

107 The Meister, III/9 (13 February 1890), 3. On Barnby’s performances see David Cormack, ‘Parsifal as English Oratorio’, The Musical Times, 148/1898 (Spring 2007), 73-98. Barnby (1838-1896) became a committee member of the London branch of the United Wagner Society: see the committee list published in La Revue Wagnérienne, March 1887, 62, and The Musical Times, 28/5291 (1 March 1887) 129. Apart from its President, Lord Dysart (1859-1935), other notable committee members included Emma Albani (1847-1930), Constance Bache (1846-1903), Charles A. Barry (1830-1915), Mary Davies (1855-1930), Viscountess Folkestone (Lady Radnor, 1846-1929), George Henschel (1850-1934), Lady Huntingtower (Lord Dysart’s mother, Katherine Elizabeth Camila née Burke, c.1817-1896), Fredrick Jameson (1839-1916), Alfred H. Littleton (1845-1914), Edward Lloyd (1845-1927), Alexander C. Mackenzie (1847-1935), August Manns (1825-1907), Alma Murray (1854-1945), Louis N. Parker (1852-1944), Carl Rosa (1842-1889), Charles Santley (1834-1922), Frank Schuster (1852-1927), William Shakespeare (1849-1931), and Frederick Westlake (1840-1898). The ‘Executive’ comprised Walter Bache (1842-1888), Avigdor L. Birnstingl (1853-1924), Julius Cyriax (1840-1892), Edward Dannreuther (1844-1905), Charles Dowdeswell (1856-1921), William Ashton Ellis (1852-1919), Alfred Forman (1840-1925), T. Henry Frood (1845-1927), Henry F. Frost (1848-1901), A.J. Hipkins (1826-1903), Edgar F. Jacques (1850-1906), B.L. Mosely (1851-1916), Hubert Parry (1848-1918), Ferdinand Praeger (1815-1891) and J.S. Shedlock (1843-1919). According to the Bayreuther Blätter for March 1893 the Society’s recent annual report listed a more tight-knit committee comprising the Earl of Dysart (President), Avigdor L. Birnstingl (cashier), Edward Dannreuther, Charles Dowdeswell (honorary secretary), William Ashton Ellis, Alfred Forman, H.F. Frost, B.L. Mosely, Hubert Parry and Louis N. Parker, with W.H. Edwards (dates unknown) named as secretary. (Edwards was possibly the Germanophile William Hayden Edwards.) In all there were 243 members, of whom probably the last survivor was the novelist Eden Phillpotts (1862-1960).

108 Robert Collum (1816-1900) was the medical officer attached to Sir Charles Napier’s military expedition to Sind in 1842 when cholera claimed many of those on board the steamship Zenobia: ‘in addition to attending to the stricken, Dr. Collum also acted as pilot of the vessel’. He was mentioned in dispatches during the Afghan Wars, and acted as interpreter, administrator, surgeon and assay master. He retired from the service in 1857 and went into practice at Surbiton. He held the position of President of the Society of Members of the Royal College of Surgeons for seven years. See his obituaries in The Times, 15 January 1900, and in the British Medical Journal, 3 February 1900, 291. Warwick Charles Steele (1858-1902) was born in Dorchester, and became M.R.C.S. in 1879. After a spell as Assistant Medical Officer at the St Saviours Infirmary and workhouse in Southwark, he had a general practice in Ealing in the 1890s, but was resident in Hexham, Northumberland, when he died aged 44. Jonathan Nield Cook (1857-1913), born in Rochdale, became the brother-in-law of Madame Blavatsky’s sometime acolyte Mabel Collins (1851-1927). Like Ellis he was a member of the London Lodge of the Theosophical Society, until he resigned from it along with T. Subba Row (1856-1890) in June 1888 in protest at the publication of Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine. From 1898 to 1906 he was Medical Officer of Health for Calcutta having previously held a similar post in Madras for several years. See the British Medical Journal, 20 January 1906, 165.

109 See contributions to The Lancet (which editorially was sympathetic) from Ellis and others, 18 April 1885, 726-7; 24 October 1885, 765; 21 November 1885, 975-6; 13 February 1886, 326; and 29 January 1887, 238; and the British Medical Journal, 3 January 1885, 49-50; 18 April 1885, 814; 27 June 1885, 1315; 30 October 1886, 843; 27 October 1888, 964-5; 10 November 1888, 1072; and 30 March 1889, 741. Meanwhile, on medical matters proper, according to the London Medical Record, 15 August 1885, 339, in June 1885 Ellis published a paper in The Lancet on the ‘untoward effects’ of injecting osmic acid in cases of neuralgia.

110 British Medical Journal, 30 October 1886, 843.

111 Ibidem, 27 October 1888, 964-5.

112 British Medical Journal, 30 January 1892, 253. See also The Times Law Report for 26 January 1892, published the day after the trial.

113 British Medical Journal, 4 June 1892, 1219-20. For the significance of the case in the development of the College see Zachary Cope, History of the Royal College of Surgeons (London 1959), 112-5. Steele v Savory is still occasionally cited as precedent in cases relating to subpoenas to obtain evidence. See for example the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in 1997, online at Incidentally, Zachary Cope (1881-1974) was the younger brother of Gilbert Edgar Cope (1874-1959), who would succeed Ellis on the medical staff of the Western Dispensary.

114 Robert Ellis’s last letter to The Times appeared on 4 May 1877, when his address was given as 106 Sloane Street. By the time of the 1881 census 63 Sloane Street had become the home of Anna Maria Duff Gordon, 45-year-old widow of Cosmo Lewis Duff Gordon, and mother of Cosmo Edmund Duff Gordon, the controversial first-class survivor of the Titanic.

115 It was also the home in 1897-98 of the painters William Nicholson (1872-1949) and his then infant son Ben Nicholson (1894-1982).

116 Ernest Charles Ellis was to be the father of Clarence Uther Ellis (1888-1947), and of Geoffrey Uther Ellis (1891-1964), a moderately successful novelist and literary critic in the 1920s and 30s. The Uther middle name had already been handed down to Robert Uther Ellis’s sons by his second marriage, Herbert William Uther Ellis (1885-1929) and Ethelbert Reginald Uther Ellis (1888-1926).

117 William White, History, Gazetteer & Directory of Devon, 1878-79 (second edition, Sheffield 1878-79), 845-6.

118 Newspaper references kindly provided by Jamie Campbell on behalf of the Area Librarian for the North Devon Library and Record Office. Captain G.F.M. Molesworth RN was the principal developer of Westward Ho! into a residential and tourist resort. Kingsley, who disapproved of the development, fell out with him.

119 Evelyn Campbell Ellis’s entry in Who Was Who, 1916-28 says only that he was educated ‘privately’.

120 The Illustrated London News (cited in The Leeds Mercury of 21 August 1885) reported that ‘The whole real and personal estate is directed to be sold and (after payment thereout of a few legacies) equally divided among testator’s family.’ In March 1886 William Ashton Ellis, along with his younger brother Reginald Henry Uther Ellis ‘of Inglemere, Lower Tooting (Co. Surr.), mineral water manufacturer’, was assigned his late father’s joint mortgage of a property in Ancton, near Bognor Regis. The property was later reconveyed to its original owner, Frederick Dixon Dixon [sic] Hartland, MP (1832-1909), on 23 May 1889, upon repayment of the principal sum. (Details of the mortgage are held at the West Sussex Record Office in Chichester.) By the time of the 1891 census, Reginald was described (aged 33) as a ‘retired mineral water manufacturer’, living at ‘Inglemere’, Figgs Marsh, Mitcham, with his widowed mother (70), sister Ada (41), and brother Bertram, solicitor’s articled clerk aged 24.

121 Thanks to local historian Maureen Hughes in Westward Ho! for her assistance with information on ‘Sunset’ and Miss Wilkins.

122 Claude Bertram Ellis would survive William Ashton Ellis by five months. It seems he suffered from ‘infantile paralysis’ (polio), and his death on 21 June 1919 at the age of 51 was certified as partly a result of ‘malassimilation of food & gradual starvation’.

123 As reported in The Times on 21 October 1913, ‘Mr. W. L. Burdetts-Coutts unveiled at the Western Dispensary, Rochester-row, Westminster, yesterday afternoon a memorial to Mr. F. C. Morgan, who was for 20 years secretary to the institution.’ Born in 1851, Morgan actually served for 26 years. The plaque is still to be seen on the wall of 38 and 40 Rochester Row.

124 Cited in William Kingsland, The Real H.P. Blavatsky (London 1928), 20. Kingsland dates the letter to 1886, which must be an error since he gives the correct date of the events as March 1887 on page 117 of his book.

125 Constance Wachtmeister, ‘At Wurzburg and Ostende’, in H.P.B. - In Memory of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky by some of her pupils (London 1891), 20. Madame Gebhard was Marie Gebhard or Gebhardt (1831-91), from Elberfeld (now incorporated in Wuppertal). Born in Dublin, Marie married the German industrialist Gustav Gebhard(t), and helped found the German section of the Theosophical Society in Elberfeld in 1884.

126 Constance Wachtmeister, Reminiscences of H.P. Blavatsky and ‘The Secret Doctrine’ (London 1893), cited in Kingsland, The Real H.P. Blavatsky, 118. This was the second apparently terminal illness from which - miraculously, of course - H.P.B. had recovered. Probably following Kingsland, Anne Dzamba Sessa gives the wrong year - 1886 - for the incident in Richard Wagner and the English, and in Wagnerism in European Culture and Politics she describes it as Blavatsky’s ‘final illness’: H.P.B. actually died four years later.

127 Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to her Family in Russia, trans. Vera Johnston (Blavatsky’s niece) in the monthly Path, ed. William Q. Judge (New York, December 1894 to December 1895), accessed online at Elision marks not in square brackets are in the source. One wonders whether Ellis drew any personal parallel with Gurnemanz massaging Kundry back to life in Act 3 of Parsifal.

128 ‘A Word from Mr. Sinnett’, in H.P.B. - In Memory of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky by some of her pupils, 21-3.

129 For their contribution to Wagner literature, see in particular Cleather and Crump’s Parsifal Lohengrin and the Legend of the Holy Grail, described and interpreted in accordance with Wagner’s own writings, in four editions (London) between 1904 and 1932. In the first edition (p.178) they reproduce Wagner’s signature, ‘Ihr dankbarer Buddhist’, from a letter to ‘a friend in Paris’ in September 1859, which ‘came into the hands of Messrs. Schott & Co., of London, only a few months ago.’ In the library at Wahnfried, ‘which, by the courtesy of Frau Wagner, we have been able to examine’, they claim that ‘all the sacred books of the East are there.’ Modern readers can confirm this for themselves from the catalogue which the Wagner Archive Bayreuth has placed online.

130 Alice Cleather, H.P. Blavatsky as I knew her (London 1923), vii. Sinnett had been even more vituperatively treated in her H.P. Blavatsky: A Great Betrayal (London 1922).

131 Cleather, H.P. Blavatsky as I knew her, 21.

132 ‘A Word from Mr. Sinnett’, in H.P.B. - In Memory of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky by some of her pupils, 23.

133 Addendum by Basil Crump in Cleather, H.P. Blavatsky as I knew her, 64-5.

134 The Meister, I/3 (22 July 1888), 84-5. Cleather and Crump would also aver that ‘This symbology has been reversed since Wagner’s death, Klingsor appearing in a white turban, and the Grail Knights in red.’ Parsifal Lohengrin and the Legend of the Holy Grail (London 1904), 134 [not in later editions].

135 Richard Wagner, as Poet, Musician and Mystic, 20-1.

136 Ibidem, 15.

137 Ibidem, 20-1.

138 Ibidem, 25-6.

139 Ibidem, 30. The quotation - somewhat out of context - is from On Poetry and Composition; cf. Ellis’s rendering ten years later in Prose Works VI (1897), 145-6.

140 Works of Thomas Carlyle (London 1896-9), XXVII, 21-2. In his later translation, Ellis’s ‘blockheads’ revert to Carlyle’s ‘dunces’.

141 The essay is not separately catalogued under Ellis or Wagner in the British Library. It was reprinted in the French theosophical journal Le Lotus in 1887. According to Sessa in Large and Weber, Wagnerism in European Culture and Politics, 268 and 350n., the essay was published in La Société Nouvelle in 1888. (Sessa was presumably unaware of the earlier publications.) La Société Nouvelle, published in Brussels between 1884 and 1914, was associated for a time with symbolist writers including Maurice Maeterlinck, and it published some early French translations of Nietzsche.

142 Theosophy in the Works of Richard Wagner, 1-2.

143 Ibidem, 38.

144 An edited transcription by Michael Gomes of the shorthand notes of Blavatsky’s 1889 talks with English Blavatsky Lodge acolytes, including Ellis, can be accessed at, under the title of The Secret Doctrine Dialogues. Ellis’s contributions at the meeting held on 10 January 1889 may represent his last direct engagement with HPB. They include the remark: ‘One is constantly meeting with the absolute poverty of our language for purposes of translation. In German one or two words may require twenty for perfect translation.’

145 In the Allgemeine Musik-Zeitung of January 1896 Mathilde Wesendonck wrote of how the Wesendoncks’ ‘bond of friendship’ with Wagner remained unbroken after his marriage to Cosima: ‘Not one of the Festivals at Bayreuth did we miss.’ Cited by Ellis in Letters to [Otto] Wesendonck et al., 110-1.

146 Letters from Richard Wagner to Mathilde Wesendonck, trans. and ed. William Ashton Ellis (London 1905), xl.

147 Ibidem, following lxii. Ellis mentions ‘not only the letter facsimiled herewith’ but ‘several others addressed to myself (of no interest whatever to the public)’. (Ibidem, 373.) Not long after receiving it, Ellis had referred obliquely to ‘this lady’s indignant denial, conveyed to me by herself, in a letter’, in The Meister, V/18 (22 May 1892), 62.

148 British Library Manuscript Add.50512.ff.275-6. Ellis was in earnest correspondence with Shaw around the time of the publication of Richard Wagner to Mathilde Wesendonck, and it’s possible he gave (or lent) Mathilde’s letter to Shaw in 1905. Ernest Newman cites the letter (from Ellis’s facsimile) in his preface to the second edition of Wagner as Man and Artist (London 1924), vii-viii. In his Fact and Fiction About Wagner (London 1931), 278-9, Newman queried Mathilde’s reference to the ‘hinterlassene Schriften’. She could hardly have been referring to the posthumous ‘Edition’ (by Wolzogen) of the Entwürfe. Gedanken. Fragmente. Aus nachgelassene Papieren zusammengestellt (Leipzig 1885), which contains no reference at all to the ‘Bordeaux episode’. Newman believed she could only have been referring to the unpublished manuscript of Mein Leben itself, which he suggests had been made available in manuscript to the Wesendoncks. Shaw doubtless saw all this, but presumably didn’t realise the original of Mathilde’s letter was actually in his possession.

149 Review by ‘Anon’ in Lucifer, II/8 (15 April 1888), 166-7.

150 The Meister, I/2 (22 May 1888), 53.

151 See The Collected Letters of W.B. Yeats, vol. 1, eds. John Kelly and Eric Domville (Oxford 1986), 67 and 72 (letters to Katherine Tynan of early May 1888 and c.15 June 1888). Evelyn Pyne ‘s poems were published extensively in Lucifer.

152 Evelyn Pyne’s contributions will be found in The Meister, III/10 (22 May 1890), 51-2; Richard Wagner to Mathilde Wesendonck (1905), 375; and the Life of Richard Wagner VI (1908), 323n. Ellis, after 1900 also in Sussex, presumably kept up some acquaintance with her after her marriage to Armitage in 1893.

153 Lucifer, ed. H. P. Blavatsky, I/4 (15 December 1887), 296-8. The American aesthete Alfred Corning Clark (1844-96) would donate $50,000 to withdraw Hofmann – probably what we would now call an autistic savant - from the alleged danger of child exploitation until he could relaunch a mature pianistic career aged 18.

154 Lucifer, I/6 (15 February 1888), 497-9. In theosophical circles William Charles Eldon Serjeant (1857-1930) was best known for his 1886 edition of William Lilly’s The Astrologer’s Guide, or Anima Astrologiae of 1676. He also wrote The Complete Guide to Company Drill in Close and Extended Order (London 1884), and his entry in Who Was Who dwells on his military career from 1874; he reached the rank of Colonel, and was knighted in 1907.

155 The late Jonathan Harvey’s buddhistic opera Wagner Dream, premiered in Luxembourg by De Nederlandse Opera in April 2007, draws on this notion.

156 Lucifer, I/6 (15 February 1888), 500-1.

157 Lucifer, III/16 (15 December 1888), 352.

158 See Louis N. Parker’s report in La Revue Wagneriènne, March 1887, 61.

159 William Ashton Ellis to Julius Cyriax, letter of 5 May 1887 (unpublished – in the possession of the writer).

160 See Eichner and Houghton, ‘Rose Oil and Pineapples’, 37.

161 Ibidem.

162 Ellis does seem to have ‘converted’ (his word) the London theosophists Thomas Benfield Harbottle (1857-1904), who became chairman of the Blavatsky Lodge, and Bertram Keightley (1860-1945), to the Wagner Society shortly before his mission to Ostend: see a note to Julius Cyriax of 2 February 1887 preserved in the Richard Wagner Archive in Bayreuth. (Thanks to Barbara Eichorn for this reference.)

163 The Yorkshire-born Zebulon Mennell (1851-1911) was the father of the eminent anaesthetist by the same name (1876-1959). He had treated Robert Louis Stevenson’s haemorrhages in Hyères (Provence) in 1884.

164 Ellis says he was put in communication with Smolian (1856-1911) by Hans von Wolzogen.

165 Life of Richard Wagner II (1902), 171n. Ida Hahn-Hahn (1805-1880) gained her dual name through a reluctant marriage to her cousin.

166 The Meister, VIII/32 (25 November 1895), 108-10. Ellis’s extracts anticipated the standard translation of Richard Wagner’s Letters to August Roeckel, by Eleanor C. Sellar (Bristol 1897), by two years: for her rendering of this particular letter see 127-145; cf. Richard Wagner Sämtliche Briefe vii, eds. Hans-Joachim Baer and Johannes Forner (Leipzig 1988), 126-133.

167 Life of Richard Wagner V (1906), 103. The best-known of Wagner’s London-based reflections on Buddhism is his letter to Liszt of 7 June 1855: see Selected Letters, eds. Stewart Spencer and Barry Millington (London 1987), 342-7 (Sämtliche Briefe vii, 203-209). On his return visit to London in 1877, according to Cosima’s Diary for 1 May that year Wagner apparently again had a ‘pleasing impression’ on his first drive through the city, notwithstanding his later (24 May) famous comment on London’s steam and fog as ‘Alberich’s dream come true’.

168 Letter to Minna Wagner, 6 March 1855, in Selected Letters, 328 (Sämtliche Briefe vii, 42). See also the Appendix to this study for the possibility that Wagner might not have been helpful about when he could be expected.

169 Cf. Denis Duveen, ‘James Price (1752-1783), Chemist and Alchemist,’ in the University of Chicago’s journal Isis, Vol. 41, No. 3/4 (December 1950), 281-283.

170 Robert Ellis, The Chemistry of Creation (London 1850), 1-18.

171 Frederick Engels, Dialectics of Nature (1873-86), in Marx and Engels, On Religion (Moscow 1972), 165.

172 Rex Pogson, Miss Horniman and the Gaiety Theatre Manchester (London 1952), 13. I am grateful to Sheila Gooddie, author of Annie Horniman: A Pioneer in the Theatre (London 1990), for this reference, especially since I think the description of Ellis as ‘a bachelor of somewhat fussy habits’ rings true. Annie’s brother Emslie (1863-1932) was listed as a member of the London Wagner Society in 1887. Incidentally, Ellis’s brother, Reginald Henry Uther Ellis, was the compiler-editor in 1910 of the Alpine Profile Road Book published by the Cyclists’ Touring Club, of which Bernard Shaw was already an enthusiastic member.

173 The Collected Letters of W.B. Yeats, vol. 4, eds. John Kelly and Ronald Schuchard (Oxford 2003), 175 (letter of 10 September 1905). Symons’ essay was ‘The Ideas of Richard Wagner’, later published in the collection Studies in Seven Arts (London 1906), 225-298.

174 Richard Wagner to Mathilde Wesendonck,, xlii (citing Meysenbug's Memoiren einer Idealistin).]

175 Born in 1816, Malwida died in Rome in 1903, but there is no evidence that Ellis had met or corresponded directly with her. Ellis was an infant during her years in London (1852-62).

176 Richard Wagner to Mathilde Wesendonck, xlii-xliii. Another Minna/Mathilde suppression would be acknowledged by Ellis in 1911, where he remarks in a footnote that the omitted passage ‘will be found in loco in my Introduction to the “Mathilde Wesendonck” volume of the master’s letters [vii-viii]. Personally I see no reason for suppressing it – in fact, the contrary – but in deference to my friend Herr Glasenapp (who presumably complies with Wahnfried wishes) I follow his example in the present place.’ Family Letters of Richard Wagner (London 1911), 215n.

177 Mill, The Subjection of Women (London 1869), chapter 4.

178 British Journal of Nursing, XXXII, 5 March 1904, 198. William Henry Allchin (1846-1912) was consulting physician to the Westminster Hospital as well as the Western and Marylebone General Dispensaries. He was knighted in 1907. The episode is also referred to by Anne Digby, in The Evolution of British General Practice 1850-1948 (Oxford 1999), 160. She points out that the preferred male candidate had no experience with women and children. (Digby refers erroneously to the ‘Westminster Dispensary’.) Ethel Miller Vernon was born in Westminster in 1869. Her obituary appeared The Times on 5 February 1936: ‘She qualified L.S.A. in 1897 from the London School of Medicine for Women, and later took the M.D. degree of London University. There were very few women doctors in those days, and Dr. Vernon was among the pioneers who showed by their example of courage and devotion that there was a definite sphere for women’s work in the medical profession. […] While taking a lively interest in the advance of women’s education and entry into the professions, she did not associate herself with the more active side of the suffrage movement.’

179 The anonymous author was Mrs Favell Lee Mortimer (1802-1878). Published by the Religious Tract Society, The Peep of Day sold half a million copies in its first (1836) edition. An ‘updated’ version is still in print today (ISBN 1857925858).

180 Life of Richard Wagner VI (1908), 7-8 (and 8n.).

181 Robt. J. Ashton, from whom William Ashton Ellis derived his middle name, was the solicitor Robert John Ashton (1813-1860), son of an affluent ‘Retired Builder Proprietor of Houses & Fund Holder’ (1851 census). Like Robert Ellis, he was living in Brompton at the time of his marriage to Maryanne in 1849. After his death Marianne [sic] re-married in 1866. Her second husband was the artist Theodore Edwin Thrupp (1830-1873). William Ashton Ellis maintained contact with his godmother, and holidayed at her home in Shanklin on the Isle of Wight in 1887. (Unpublished letter from Ellis to Julius Cyriax, 5 May 1887, in the writer’s possession.) Marianne Thrupp died aged 65 in 1893, and Ellis was named as an executor of her will. It was probably during a visit to her in 1889 that he had his photo taken at Hughes & Mullins' studio in Ryde.

182 Official Descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue of the Great Exhibition, 1851, I, vi.

183 Robert Ellis, The Chemistry of Creation, 440-1.

184 Ibidem, 267.

185 La Revue Wagnérienne, March 1887, 61. ‘The London Wagner Society has begun the new year boldly and in good heart. We presently have one hundred and seventy members who for the most part are well known in the musical world. We hope to increase this number to a thousand during the year so as to be able to give performances, or at least ONE performance of a Wagnerian drama: it’s not good intentions we lack, but money. The Society is also occupied with founding a Wagnerian journal to appear quarterly, since though the Revue Wagnérienne is well known in England we lack an English journal of our own.’

186 The Meister, I/1 (13 February 1888), 1.

187 The Meister, II/1 (13 February 1889), 1.

188 The Meister, I/1 (13 February 1888), describing ‘Our Frontispiece’ below the Contents on the un-numbered reverse of the title-page. For Bernard Shaw’s comment, see London Music in 1888-89: As Heard by Corno di Bassetto (London 1937), 49. Despite this inauspicious reference, the American-born stage and costume designer Percy Anderson (1851-1928) became associated with Gilbert and Sullivan, Herbert Beerbohm Tree, Hugh Walpole and Edward Elgar. His obituary in The Times (31 October 1928) remarked that he ‘was an enthusiastic lover of music, and he had a keen sense of humour, which came out in occasional caricatures’.

189 The Meister, V/18 (22 May 1892), 61-4. The Praeger controversy is examined later in this study.

190 The Meister, I/1 (13 February 1888), 16.

191 Ibidem 18.

192 Ibidem, 19.

193 The Meister, VI/23 (13 August 1893), 104.

194 The Meister, VI/24 (25 November 1893), 120-1.

195 The Meister, II/8 (7 November 1889), 146.

196 Bernard Shaw, London Music in 1888-9, 181. Charles Dowdeswell (1856-1921) was the elder son of Charles William Dowdeswell (1832-1915), a London art-dealer and owner, with Charles and his younger son Walter (1858-1929), of Dowdeswells Gallery on New Bond Street from 1878 until it closed in 1912. The gallery was best known for its promotion of Whistler’s work. Charles jr was a friend and supporter of Ellis, and was described in his death notice in The Times for 21 November 1921 as having been ‘for many years secretary of the Wagner Club’ [sic]. Carl Armbruster (1846-1917) was born in Andernach am Rhein but came to London in 1863 and took British citizenship in 1868. He developed a versatile career as a London-based pianist, arranger, conductor and lecturer. Between 1886 and 1894, Armbruster was a musical assistant (repetiteur and offstage conductor) at six consecutive Bayreuth Festivals, working alongside (amongst others) Engelbert Humperdinck, Wilhelm Kienzl, Heinrich Porges, Arthur Smolian, Richard Strauss, Siegfried Wagner and Felix Weingartner. In 1901 he became musical adviser to the London County Council’s Parks and Open Spaces Committee, an appointment which lasted until his retirement through ill-health in 1914. Pauline Cramer (1858-?) was the original (unvoiced) Grail-bearer at Bayreuth in 1882. Born in Munich, she performed as a concert singer in London from 1881, and appeared at Covent Garden as Venus in 1884 and Isolde in 1892. She sang in the first English performance of Schumann’s Genoveva on 8 March 1887. In the 1890s she gave concert performances in London and other English cities under Hans Richter, and was frequently accompanied in recitals by Armbruster throughout Britain and in the USA. Ernest Newman lamented the necessity of lecture-recitals on the Ring given by Armbruster and Cramer in Manchester as late as 1906 (Manchester Guardian, 7 February 1906). Cramer’s 1909 recording of An die Leyer appears on the EMI Classics compilation Schubert Lieder on Record I (1898-1939). After The Musical Times noticed her in a Brahms recital with Armbruster in Bradford in May 1912, no further trace of her seems discoverable in England; she seems to have retained her German citizenship, and may have returned to her homeland with the approach of war. For more about Armbruster and Cramer see David Cormack, ‘A Bayreuth Extension Lecturer’, The Musical Times, (Spring 2011), 61-86).

197 Shaw, ibidem, 177.

198 Ibidem, 309-10.

199 Ibidem, 310.

200 Each bound volume in the current Wagner Society’s library seems to be inscribed in pencil, ‘Mrs Bernard Shaw’, though Shaw didn’t marry until 1 June 1898.


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