Elizabeth Mayer

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Elizabeth Mayer (1884 - 1970) was a German-born American translator and editor, closely associated with W. H. Auden, Benjamin Britten, Peter Pears, and other writers and musicians. In the 1940s her homes in Long Island and New York served as an artistic salon for many émigré writers.

Elizabeth Mayer was born in Germany and spent her early life in Munich. Her father had been chaplain to the Grand Duke of Mecklenberg; she studied music and was a skilled pianist.

She was married to the psychiatrist William Mayer, and after the Nazis rise to power, went into American exile with him.

In collaboration with Marianne Moore she translated Adalbert Stifter's Bergkristall (Rock Crystal 1945).

In collaboration with Louise Bogan she translated Ernst Jünger's The Glass Bees (1961), Goethe's Elective Affinities (1963) and The Sorrows of Young Werther and Novella (both in 1 vol., 1971). Bogan and Mayer also translated ).

With W. H. Auden, she translated Goethe's Italian Journey (1962). She also translated Hans Graf von Lehndorff's Token of a Covenant: Diary of an East Prussian Surgeon, 1945-47 (1965)

She was the dedicatee and recipient of Auden's poem New Year Letter and the book that included it, The Double Man (1941). Auden regarded her the emotional equivalent of a mother, and was close to her for many years. Near the end of her life he wrote about her (without naming her) in his poem Old People's Home.

Elizabeth Mayer is the dedicatee of the sixth section, titled "Interlude," of Britten's "Les Illuminations," Op. 18, settings of Rimbaud for high voice and string orchestra.

She was a friend and admirer of Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement.