Laurence Alma-Tadema

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Photograph of Alma-Tadema, possibly taken during her 1907-1908 tour of the United States.

Laurence Alma-Tadema (born Laurense Tadema, 1865–1940), was an English novelist and poet of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who worked in many genres.[1]

Early life[edit]

Alma-Tadema was born in Brussels in 1865. She was the eldest daughter of the Dutch painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836–1912) and his first wife Marie-Pauline Gressin Dumoulin. [2] Laurence lived in "The Fair Haven", Wittersham, Kent, and she involved herself with music and plays with the villagers and their children, going on to construct a building to seat a hundred people, used for musical concerts and plays, which she named "Hall of Happy Hours".[3] She never married, and died in a nursing home in London in 1940.[1][4] Her stepmother, Lady Laura Theresa Alma-Tadema (1852–1909) and sister Anna Alma-Tadema (1867–1943) were also noted artists.[5]

Literary work[edit]

Alma-Tadema's first novel, Love's Martyr, was published in 1886. In addition to her own collections of stories and poems, which she often published herself, Alma-Tadema wrote two novels, songs and works on drama; she also made translations. The Orlando Project says about Alma-Tadema's writing that the "characteristic tone is one of intense emotion, but in prose and verse she has the gift of compression".[1] She contributed widely to periodicals, notably The Yellow Book, and also edited one herself.[1] Some of Alma-Tadema's plays were successfully produced in Germany.[3]

Alma-Tadema's poem "If No One Ever Marries Me", written in 1897 and published in Realms of Unknown Kings,[6] saw performances as a song in the 21st century by Natalie Merchant on her double album Leave Your Sleep.[7][8] In 1900 it had been included in the musical score, The daisy chain, cycle of twelve songs of childhood by Liza Lehmann,[9] and in 1922 in the musical score Little girls composed by Louise Sington.[citation needed]

Political activities[edit]

Alma-Tadema had a close association with Poland. She was secretary of the "Poland and the Polish Victims Relief Fund" from 1915 to 1939. She was an admirer and long-term associate of Ignacy Jan Paderewski both as far as his music and political activities were concerned, notably on Polish independence.[4] Alma-Tadema maintained a long-correspondence with him from 1915 to the end of her life. Some of her papers are deposited with the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford.[10]

American tour[edit]

Alma-Tadema, who had socialist leanings, travelled to America in 1907 to tour the country widely.[3] She gave a series of readings on the "Meaning of Happiness," which proved exceedingly popular.[3] She also spoke on the plight of the divided Poland and asked her audience to express their feelings for this cause.[11][12]


  • Love's Martyr, Longmans, London, Green, and Co., {1886}, hardcover, 208 pages; New York, D. Appleton (1886)
  • One Way of Love: A Play (1893), Edinburgh : R. & R. Clark, 54 pages
  • The wings of Icarus: being the life of one Emilia Fletcher, revealed by herself in I. Thirty-five letters, written to Constance Norris between July 18th, 188–, and March 26th of the following year; II. A fragmentary journal; III. A postscript, MacMillan New York and London, 1894
  • The Crucifix, A Venetian Phantasy, and Other Tales, London, Osgood, McIlvaine & Co. (1895), 172 pages
  • Realms of unknown kings, London, G. Richards, 1897
  • The fate-spinner, London, E.B. Mortlock, 1900
  • The Daisy-Chain (Liza Lehmann, L. Alma-Tadema, R.L. Stevenson and others) (1900)
  • Songs of childhood, Wrotham, Kent, Herb O'Grace, 1902.
  • Songs of womanhood, London: Grant Richards, 1903, hardcover, 117 pages
  • Four plays, London, Green Sheaf, 1905
  • Tales from my garden: three fairy tales, coauthored with Pamela Colman Smith, London, The Green Sheaf, 1906
  • The meaning of happiness : a discourse, London, Elkin Mathews, 1909
  • A few lyrics, London, E. Mathews, 1909
  • Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes : Proverbs and Rhyme Games, illustrated by Charles Robinson, forward by Laurence Alma-Tadema, Collins Clear-Type Press, London, c. 1910, hardcover, 208 pages
  • Chopin. A discourse ... Translated from the Polish by Laurence Alma Tadema, Ignace Jan Paderewski, London, W. Adlington, 1911
  • Pelleas and Melisanda and the Sightless Two Plays By Maurice Maeterlinck, translation by Laurence Alma-Tadema, Walter Scott Ltd., London, hardcover and G. Allen and Unwin, London {1914}
  • Poland, Russia and the war, St. Catherine press (1915)
  • A Child's Garden of Verses ... With an introduction by Laurence Alma Tadema. Illustrated by Kate Elizabeth Olver. by Robert Louis Stevenson; Kate Elizabeth OLVER; Laura Theresa Alma-Tadema, London & Glasgow, : Collins' Clear-Type Press, [1927]
  • Little bo Peep's Story Book, Laurence Alma-Tadema, John Lea, and others, Children's Press, London, hardcover
  • A Gleaner's Sheaf. Verses., London: St. Martin's Press (1927)
  • The divine orbit : seventeen sonnets, Wittersham [Kent], s.n., London, Printed by Finden Brown & Co., 1933
  • Playgrounds (single poem)


  1. ^ a b c d Brown, Susan; Clements, Patricia; Grundy, Isobel (n.d.). "Laurence Alma-Tadema entry: Overview screen". Orlando Project – Women's Writing in the British Isles from the Beginning to the Present. The Orlando Project. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  2. ^ She appears in the painting by her father This is our corner (, 1873, also known as Laurense and Anna Alma-Tadema, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam) as the young girl in the foreground holding papers. Her younger sister Anna is shown lying on the bed in the background.
  3. ^ a b c d Unattributed (1910–1912). "Miss Laurence Alma-Tadema". Every Woman's Encyclopaedia. London S.N. Retrieved 16 August 2011.  External link in |work= (help)
  4. ^ a b Ignacy Jan Paderewski. Translated by Laurence Alma Tadema. Originally published 1911. (Winter 2001). "Chopin: A Discourse". Polish Music Journal. 4 (2). ISSN 1521-6039. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  5. ^ Source: (n.d.). "Lady Laura Alma-Tadema". Fine Art Database. Antiques and Fine Art Magazine. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  6. ^ Unattributed. "Laurence Alma-Tadema - "If No One Ever Marries Me"". ArtMagick Illustrated Poetry Collection. ArtMagick. Retrieved 17 August 2011. 
  7. ^ Merchant, Natalie (February 2010). "Natalie Merchant sings old poems to life". TED2010. TED Conference LLC. Retrieved 13 August 2011. . See Interactive transcript for referred fact.
  8. ^ "If No One Ever Marries Me – Laurence Alma-Tadema (1865–1940) (The Official Natalie Merchant Website | Leave Your Sleep | Read | If No One Ever Marries Me)". The Official Natalie Merchant Website. Retrieved 17 August 2011.  External link in |work= (help)
  9. ^ "Album Information – LEHMANN: Daisy Chain (The) / Bird Songs / Four Cautionary Tales (English Song, Vol. 8)". ClassicsOnline. Naxos Digital Services Ltd. 2011. Retrieved 17 August 2011.  External link in |work= (help)
  10. ^ "Collection Level Description: Papers of Miss Laurence Alma-Tadema". Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  11. ^ Unattributed (19 November 1907). "ASKS WOMEN TO AID POLAND.; Laurence Alma Tadema Wants Them to Help Sienklewicz's Plan" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  12. ^ Unatributed (10 February 1908). "A RECIPE FOR HAPPINESS.; Miss Alma Tadema Here to Tell Americans How to Attain It" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved 13 August 2011. 

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