Helen Zimmern

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Helen Zimmern
Helen Zimmern.jpg
Helen Zimmern
Born (1846-03-25)25 March 1846
Hamburg, Germany
Died 11 January 1934(1934-01-11) (aged 87)
Florence, Italy
Nationality British
Citizenship United Kingdom
Occupation Author

Helen Zimmern (25 March 1846 – 11 January 1934) was a German-British writer and translator.


Zimmern and her parents emigrated in 1850 to Britain, where her father became a Nottingham lace merchant. She was naturalized upon coming of age. She was one of the three daughters of the merchant Hermann Theodore Zimmern, and his wife Antonia Marie Therese Regina Zimmern. Her sister was suffragist Alice Zimmern and a cousin was the political scientist Alfred Eckhard Zimmern. Her first appearance in print was a story for Once a Week, and she was soon writing for the Argosy and other magazines. A series of children's stories, first published 1869-71 in Good Words for the Young, were reprinted as Stories in Precious Stones (1873) and followed by another collection, Told by the Waves. A series of tales from the Edda appeared in Old Merry's Monthly in 1872, before being similarly republished.

In 1873 Zimmern began writing critical articles, particularly on German literature, for the Examiner. She would also write for Fraser's Magazine, Blackwood's Magazine, the Athenaeum, the Spectator, St James's, Pall Mall Magazine, the World of Art, the Italian La Rassegna Settimanale and various German papers. Through her advocacy and translations, Zimmern made European culture - whether that of Germany, or, increasingly, Italy - accessible to English speakers. She lectured on Italian art in Britain and Germany, and translated Italian drama, fiction and history. She befriended Friedrich Nietzsche, two of whose books she would later translate, in Switzerland in the mid-1880s. By the end of the decade she had settled in Florence, where she was associated with the Corriere della Sera and also edited the Florence Gazette. In later life she defended Italian values against what she saw as the threat of German expansionism.





  • F. Hays, Women of the Day, 1885
  • C. A. Creffield, ‘Zimmern, Helen (1846–1934)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 11 Sept 2007

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