W. S. Lach-Szyrma

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Wladislaw Somerville Lach-Szyrma
Born (1841-12-25)25 December 1841
Devonport, Devon
Died 1915
Occupation Curate, writer
Language English
Nationality British
Ethnicity Polish-English
Alma mater Brasenose College, Oxford
Period Victorian era
Genres Science fiction
Subjects History of Cornwall
English folklore
Literary movement Victorian literature
Notable work(s) Aleriel, or A Voyage to Other Worlds (1883)
Relative(s) Krystyn Lach Szyrma (father)
St Peter's Church, where Lach-Szyrma served as vicar from 1873 until 1890. The church opened in 1866.

Rev. Wladislaw Somerville Lach-Szyrma, M.A., F.R.H.S. (25 December 1841 to 1915) was an English curate and author.

Wladislaw Somerville Lach-Szyrma was born in Devonport, a southern district in the English county of Devon. His father was Krystyn Lach Szyrma, a Polish professor of philosophy who abandoned his teaching position at the University of Warsaw and expatriated c. 1830, to escape persecution amidst the November Uprising. Krystyn started a new life in England, and married into the Somerville family of Plymouth. Wladislaw was born on Christmas day, 1841.

After studying the classics in a Literae Humaniores course at Brasenose College, Oxford, Wladislaw accepted a curacy in Pensilva; so began a life of service to the Church of England in Cornwall. In 1869 he took the curacy at St Paul's in Truro, followed in 1871 by another in Carnmenellis. He became ill during a visit to Paris; after a short recovery, he returned to England to find that several newspapers published his obituary.[1] From 1873 until 1890 he served as vicar of St. Peter's Church in the port town of Newlyn.[2]

W. S. Lach-Szyrma was keenly interested in the history of Cornwall; he wrote prolifically about the churches and antiquities there—especially those of the district around Penzance. He was also a pioneering writer of science fiction; he is credited as the first writer to use the word Martian as a noun;[3][4] this precedent occurs in his 1883 novel, Aleriel, or A Voyage to Other Worlds.

Publications (selected)[edit]


  • 1864: On the Relation of the Slavonians to the Other Indo-European Nations.
  • 1878: A short history of Penzance, S. Michael's Mount, S. Ives, and the Land's End district. Truro: Lake and Lake.
  • 1882: "M. Sebillot's System as applied to Cornish Folk-lore". Transactions of the Penzance Natural History and Antiquarian Society. New Series: pp. 132–150.
  • 1884: Newlyn: Its History and Legends. Penzance: Oakmagic, 2001 (Originally published as: Newlyn & its Pier. Penzance: W. S. Lach-Szyrma, 1884.
  • 1889: Relics of the Cornish Language. Penzance (with W. C. Borlase and S. Rundle) (reissued [Dumfries?]: Oakmagic, 2008 ISBN 1-904330-97-5 )
  • 1891: A Church History of Cornwall and of the Diocese of Truro. London: Elliot Stock
  • Curious Churches in Cornwall.

Science fiction[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://members.multimania.co.uk/Szyrma/
  2. ^ Jenkin, C. J. (2009) Newlyn. A view from Street-an-Nowan. Penryn: R. Booth Ltd.
  3. ^ Pool, P. A. S. (1974) The History of the Town and Borough of Penzance. Penzance: Corporation of Penzance.
  4. ^ Mark Forsyth (September 16, 2010). "Wladyslaw Lach-Szyrma and the First Martian". The Inky Fool. Retrieved 2013-05-07.