Rosemary Edmonds

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Rosemary Edmonds (20 October 1905 – 26 July 1998), born Rosemary Lilian Dickie, was a British translator of Russian literature whose editions of Leo Tolstoy have been in print for 50 years.


Edmonds was born in London, grew up in England, and studied English, Russian, French, Italian and Old Church Slavonic at universities in England, France and Italy. During World War II she was translator to General de Gaulle at Fighting France Headquarters in London, and after Liberation, in Paris.[1] After this she was hired as a translator at Penguin books. Tolstoy was her specialty.[2]

Her translation of Anna Karenina, entitled as Anna Karenin, appeared in 1954. In a two-volume edition, her translation of War and Peace was published in 1957. She also had published translations of Alexander Pushkin and Ivan Turgenev.

She took the name Edmonds from her husband James Edmonds. They married in 1927. The marriage was later dissolved.

Later in life she released translations of texts by members of the Russian orthodox church. In 1982 her translation of "The Orthodox Liturgy" was published by the Oxford University Press, "primarily for the use for the Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist at Tolleshunt Knights in Essex". She had learned Old Church Slavonic to complete the project.

According to one critic, Edmonds' introductions to Anna Karenina and War and Peace are concise and elegant and show a masterful understanding of the nuance and subtlety of Tolstoy reflected by her skillful and readable translations.[3]

She writes in the introduction to War and Peace that it "is a hymn to life. It is the Iliad and Odyssey of Russia. Its message is that the only fundamental obligation of man is to be in touch with life . . . Life is everything. Life is God . . . To love life is to love God."

Tolstoy's "private tragedy", she continues, "was that having got to the gates of the Optinsky monastery, in his final flight, he could go no further, and died."


  • Leo Tolstoy (1954). Anna Karenin. Translator Rosemary Edmonds. Penguin Classics. ISBN 978-0-14-062449-6. 
  • Leo Tolstoy (1957). War and Peace. Translator Rosemary Edmonds, introduction by Rosemary Edmonds. Penguin Classics. ISBN 0-14-044417-3. 
  • Leo Tolstoy. The Kreutzer Sonata And Other Stories. Translator Rosemary Edmonds. Penguin Classics. ISBN 1-4179-2321-0. 
  • Leo Tolstoy. Resurrection. Translator Rosemary Edmonds. Penguin Classics. ISBN 978-0-14-044184-0. 
  • Leo Tolstoy. The Death of Ivan Ilyich: The Cossacks, Happy Ever After. Translator Rosemary Edmonds. Penguin Classics. 
  • Leo Tolstoy. Childhood, Boyhood, Youth. Translator Rosemary Edmonds. Penguin Classics. ISBN 978-0-14-044139-0. 
  • Ivan Turgenev. Fathers and Sons. Translator Rosemary Edmonds. Penguin Classics. ISBN 0-14-044147-6. 
  • Alexander Pushkin. The Queen of Spades and Other Stories. Translator Rosemary Edmonds, introduction by Rosemary Edmonds. Penguin Classics. ISBN 0-14-044119-0. 
  • Archimandrite Sophrony (1977). His Life is Mine: A Spiritual Testimony. Translator Rosemary Edmonds. Saint Vladimir's Seminary Press. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Her biography in Turgenev's Fathers and Sons 14 044147 6
  2. ^ Obituary: Rosemary Edmonds, by James Ferguson. Date: 14 August 1998.
  3. ^ Linga Franca, ABC Radio (Australia), Robert Dessaix compares the Anna Karenina translation of Rosemary Edmonds with that of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky -- and concludes Edmonds' is the more successful. Date: 21 April 2001.

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