Alexander Teixeira de Mattos

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Alexander Teixeira de Mattos
Alexander Teixeira de Mattos by Hoppe.jpg
Portrait of Teixeira de Mattos by E. O. Hoppé
Alexander Louis Teixeira de Mattos

(1865-04-09)April 9, 1865
Amsterdam, Netherlands
DiedDecember 5, 1921(1921-12-05) (aged 56)
St Ives, Cornwall, England
OccupationJournalist, critic, publisher, professional translator
Known forTranslations
Alexander Teixeira de Mattos signature.jpg

Alexander Louis Teixeira de Mattos (April 9, 1865 – December 5, 1921), known as Alexander Teixeira de Mattos, was a Dutch-English journalist, literary critic and publisher, who gained his greatest fame as a translator.

Early life[edit]

The Teixeira de Mattos Sampaio e Mendes family was of Portuguese Jewish origin, having been driven out of Portugal to the Netherlands by Holy Office persecution. Alexander Teixeira de Mattos was born as a Dutch Protestant to an English mother and a Dutch father. In 1874, when he was nine years old, he and his family moved from Amsterdam to England.[1] There, he studied under Monsignor Thomas John Capel[1][2] and converted to Roman Catholicism.[1][3] He then studied at the Kensington Catholic Public School[4] and at the Jesuit school Beaumont College.[2][4]


After his studies, Teixeira came into contact with J. T. Grein, a London impresario of Dutch origin, and was made secretary of Grein's Independent Theatre Society. He worked as a freelance translator, as the London correspondent of a Dutch newspaper, and as the editor of the papers Dramatic Opinions and The Candid Friend, and, in collaboration with Leonard Smithers, in publishing. He became the official translator of the works of Maurice Maeterlinck, beginning with Maeterlinck's The Double Garden.[4]

Teixera was fluent in English, French, German, Flemish, Dutch, and Danish.[5] In addition to the later works of Maeterlinck, his translations include works by Émile Zola, Alexis de Tocqueville, Maurice Leblanc, Gaston Leroux, François René de Chateaubriand, Paul Kruger, Carl Ewald, Georgette Leblanc, Stijn Streuvels, and Louis Couperus. He considered his greatest achievement to be his complete translation of Jean-Henri Fabre's natural history.[6]

In the 1890s, Teixeira was the leading translator for the Lutetian Society, a group whose mission was "to issue to its members, translations of such representative master-pieces of fiction by Continental authors as are unprocurable in English in an unmutilated rendering." He oversaw the Society's publication of unexpurgated translations of six banned novels by Émile Zola in 1894–5, contributing his own translation of the third volume in the series, La curée.[7]

During World War I, Teixera was head of the Intelligence Section, as well as a member of the Advisory Board, of the War Trade Intelligence Department.[8] Midway through the war, Teixeira became a British subject.[1] In June 1920, he was made a Chevalier of the Order of Leopold II.[9]

Personal life[edit]

On 20 October 1900, he married Lily Wilde, née Sophie Lily Lees (1859-1922), the widow of Oscar Wilde's older brother Willie Wilde and thus became the stepfather of Dolly Wilde, then age 5.[3] Alexander and Lily Teixeira de Mattos had one son, who died a few hours after birth.[10]

Teixeira was known to his acquaintances as a dandy and a fastidious worker, keeping strictly to set hours, and was linked to the Symbolist movement thanks to his friendship and travels with Arthur Symons.[7] He was also personal friends with Maurice Maeterlinck and Louis Couperus, both of whom wrote works he translated.[11] He was politically liberal and a devout Catholic.[12]

Due to ill health, Teixeira traveled on a rest cure in 1920 at Crowborough and the Isle of Wight, returning to his home in Chelsea, London in spring 1921. He worked as usual through the autumn and traveled to Cornwall for the winter.[13] On December 5, 1921, in St Ives, Cornwall[14] he collapsed and died from angina pectoris.[13] The New York Times, in its obituary notice, called him "one of the best translators of foreign languages of the present generation."[14] The high quality and readability of Teixera's work was such that many of his translations are still in print today. For example, though his translation of La curée is over a century old, its accuracy and style have given it a status still unrivaled by more modern versions.[7]

List of translations[edit]

The dates given in the list below are the publication dates for Teixeira's translations. Unless otherwise referenced, all information in the list is derived from catalog entries in WorldCat.

Author Title Year
Arthur Byl Yvette Guilbert 1898
Antoine de Castellane Men and things of my time 1911
François René de Chateaubriand The memoirs of François René, vicomte de Chateaubriand, sometime ambassador to England 1902
Louis Couperus Ecstasy: A Study of Happiness (Translated with John Gray)[7] 1892
Louis Couperus Majesty: A Novel (Begun by Teixeira, completed by Ernest Dowson)[7] 1894
Louis Couperus The Books of Small Souls, Vol. I: Small Souls 1914
Louis Couperus The Books of Small Souls, Vol. II: The Later Life 1915
Louis Couperus The Books of Small Souls, Vol. III: The Twilight of the Souls 1917
Louis Couperus The Books of Small Souls, Vol. IV: Dr. Adriaan 1918
Louis Couperus Old People and the Things that Pass 1918
Louis Couperus The Tour: A Story of Ancient Egypt 1920
Louis Couperus The Inevitable 1920
Louis Couperus The Hidden Force: A Story of Modern Java 1921
Robert d'Humières Through Isle and Empire 1905
Carl Ewald My Little Boy 1906
Carl Ewald Two-Legs 1906
Carl Ewald The spider, and other tales 1907
Carl Ewald The Old Room 1908
Carl Ewald The Four Seasons 1913
Carl Ewald The Old Willow-tree, and other stories 1921
Carl Ewald The Pond 1922
Carl Ewald The twelve sisters and other stories 1923
Jean-Henri Fabre The Works of J. H. Fabre 1912–1922
Fernand Grenard Tibet: the country and its inhabitants 1904
Jozef Israëls Spain: the story of a journey 1900
Melati van Java The Resident's Daughter 1893
Paul Kruger The memoirs of Paul Kruger, four times president of the South African republic 1902
Georgette Leblanc The Children's Bluebird 1913
Georgette Leblanc The Choice of Life 1914
Georgette Leblanc The girl who found the blue bird; a visit to Helen Keller 1914
Georgette Leblanc Maeterlinck's dogs 1920
Maurice Leblanc The Exploits of Arsène Lupin 1907
Maurice Leblanc Arsène Lupin versus Holmlock Shears 1909
Maurice Leblanc 813 1910
Maurice Leblanc The Frontier 1912
Maurice Leblanc The Confessions of Arsène Lupin 1912
Maurice Leblanc The Hollow Needle 1913
Maurice Leblanc The Crystal Stopper 1913
Maurice Leblanc The Teeth of the Tiger 1915
Maurice Leblanc The Bomb-Shell: 1914 1916
Maurice Leblanc The Golden Triangle 1917
Maurice Leblanc Coffin Island 1920
Maurice Leblanc The Eyes of Innocence (Original title: Le Roman d'une jeune fille) 1920
Maurice Leblanc The secret of Sarek 1920
Maurice Leblanc The Three Eyes 1921
Maurice Leblanc The Eight Strokes of the Clock 1922
Maurice Leblanc The Tremendous Event 1922
Maurice Leblanc The Secret Tomb 1922
Gaston Leroux The Phantom of the Opera 1911
Gaston Leroux Balaoo 1913
Jean Léonard Souvenirs of Léonard, hairdresser to Queen Marie-Antoinette 1897
Maurice Maeterlinck Chrysanthemums and other essays 1904
Maurice Maeterlinck The Double Garden 1904
Maurice Maeterlinck "King Lear" in Paris 1905
Maurice Maeterlinck My Dog 1906
Maurice Maeterlinck Old-fashioned flowers and other open-air essays 1906
Maurice Maeterlinck The Intelligence of the Flowers 1907
Maurice Maeterlinck Life and Flowers 1907
Maurice Maeterlinck The Measure of the Hours 1907
Maurice Maeterlinck News of spring and other nature studies 1907
Maurice Maeterlinck Joyzelle 1907
Maurice Maeterlinck The leaf of olive 1908
Maurice Maeterlinck Mary Magdalene 1910
Maurice Maeterlinck The Blue Bird[15] 1910
Maurice Maeterlinck Death 1911
Maurice Maeterlinck Hours of Gladness 1912
Maurice Maeterlinck Our Eternity 1913
Maurice Maeterlinck Our Friend the Dog 1913
Maurice Maeterlinck The Unknown Guest 1914
Maurice Maeterlinck Life and letters 1914
Maurice Maeterlinck The Wrack of the Storm 1916
Maurice Maeterlinck The Light Beyond 1917
Maurice Maeterlinck The Burgomaster of Stilemonde 1918
Maurice Maeterlinck The Betrothal or the Blue Bird Chooses 1918
Maurice Maeterlinck The Miracle of Saint Anthony 1918
Maurice Maeterlinck Mountain Paths 1919
G. Hermine Marius Dutch painting in the nineteenth century 1908
Eugénie de Coucy Oudinot Memoirs of Marshal Oudinot, duc de Reggio 1896
Xavier Paoli My royal clients 1911
Peter Rosegger The forest farm: tales of the Austrian Tyrol 1912
Stijn Streuvels The Path of Life 1915
Alexis de Tocqueville The Recollections of Alexis de Tocqueville 1896
August Weissl The Mystery of the Green Car 1913
Émile Zola The heirs of Rabourdin 1894
Émile Zola La curée 1895


  1. ^ a b c d McKenna, Stephen (1922). Tex: A Chapter in the Life of Alexander Teixeira de Mattos. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company. p. 10.
  2. ^ a b "About Authors" (PDF). The New York Times. 7 May 1904. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  3. ^ a b Schenkar, Joan (2000). Truly Wilde: The Unsettling Story of Oscar Wilde's Niece. Great Britain: Virago Press. p. 72. ISBN 0306810794.
  4. ^ a b c McKenna, p. 11.
  5. ^ McKenna, p. 8.
  6. ^ McKenna, p. 12.
  7. ^ a b c d e Merkle, Denise (2003). "The Lutetian Society". TTR: traduction, terminologie, rédaction. 16 (2): 73–101. doi:10.7202/010716ar.
  8. ^ McKenna, p. 14.
  9. ^ McKenna, p. 90.
  10. ^ McKenna, p. 16.
  11. ^ McKenna, p. 19.
  12. ^ McKenna, pp. 29.
  13. ^ a b McKenna, p. 15.
  14. ^ a b "Books and Authors" (PDF). The New York Times. 15 January 1922. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  15. ^ "The Blue Bird, by Maurice Maeterlinck".

Further reading[edit]

  • Ronald Breugelmans [nl], Louis Couperus in den vreemde (Leiden, 2008). Includes ten letters by Teixeira to the Dutch writer Louis Couperus.

External links[edit]