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The truth about "The Truth About Wagner": Daniel Carroll

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday 23 August 2012 | 6:21:00 pm

Daniel Carroll critically evaluates and  investigates the background of Hurn and Root's infamous book The Truth About Wagner. A well researched paper of as much interest to the Wagner "newbie" as the Wagner expert.

About the Author

Daniel John Carroll is a graduate student and teaching assistant in the Department of Musicology and Ethnomusicology at Boston University. He has presented scholarly papers at academic conferences on philosophy and music (including the College Music Society and American Musicological Society) throughout the United States and Canada. His academic work has been published in The New Grove Dictionary of American Music and several conference proceedings. Non-academic writings include articles for Pulse, the arts, entertainment, and culture section of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News in Moscow, Idaho and The Public Humanist. Upcoming research projects include a stint as Lecturer in Residence for Boston Metro Opera, participation with the Phenomenology Research Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and the global seminar “The Aesthetics of Music and Sound: Cross-Disciplinary Interplay Between the Humanities, Technology, and Musical Practice” with the University of Southern Denmark

"The Truth About Wagner"

It has been eighty-two years since Philip Dutton Hurn and Waverley Lewis Root wrote The Truth About Wagner, a book written after the discovery of the Burrell Collection of Wagner Documents in London that “fanned the already brightly-burning flames of…controversy over Wagner.”1

Hurn was born on May 24, 1894 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He served in World War I, registering on a card by the name of Philip John Hurn, and signing as Philip A. Hurn. He also served in World War II, registering as Philip Dutton Hurn, signing as Philip A. Hurn, at the age of 47.2 According to the Oakland Tribune from May 20, 1929, Hurn married Florence Russell Hurn in August of 1920.3 He lived with Florence at 2020 Gower Street in Hollywood. The San Francisco Superior Court recorded a divorce filed on March 16, 1929, the Oakland Tribune indicated that “an interlocutory decree of divorce” was granted on May 20, 1929, 4 and the Court also recorded that a final judgment was filed on May 21, 1930.5 They had one daughter, Jane Atherton Hurn.6

Waverley Lewis Root was born on April 5, 1903 in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1927, he went to Paris and began working for the Chicago Tribune. He also served as a Paris correspondent for the Washington Post from 1957 until his retirement in 1969. He had one daughter, Diane Lane Root. He died on October 31, 1982.7

The collaboration on this particular book is made all the more interesting considering that Hurn was a motion picture writer and the majority of Root’s subsequent writings are about food and culinary arts.8 However, his daughter reported that this was quite natural for her father, given the wide variety of people he knew and worked with: “He was a man who covered a large swath among his acquaintances: writers and journalists, of course, but also artists, painters, sculptors and a bevy of musicians.”9

Considering their varied literary outputs, their decision to collaborate on this book is that much more interesting. A pivotal step to uncovering the mystery of this book was to ascertain how and when these two authors met, and then, if possible, proceed more deeply into why they decided to undertake such a project. The National Archives and Records Administration reported the presence of a record of Phillip D. Hurn from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, who travelled on the S.S. America to New York City from Southampton, England, arriving on March 9, 1930. This makes sense in light of the fact that the book was published in New York in 1930, specifically “last week” according to an article about the book from Time magazine written April 7, 1930.10 Furthermore, there is a record for Waverley Root travelling on the S.S. Republic to Boston, also from Southampton, England, on August 21, 1929.11

Diane, Waverley’s daughter, reported that she knew of Waverley’s travels to Paris in 1927, but not of his subsequent journeys.12 It is clear from the NARA records that sometime between 1927 and August of 1929, Root had travelled to England. It is plausible, considering he was there over three months after Hurn had “discovered” the Burrell Collection of Wagner Documents, that he either went there in August to meet Hurn and to start work on the book with him, or, if he was in England before August, to have stayed there to meet with Hurn and start work on the book. Diane also reported that he was in London during this time working for the newspaper The Observer, so it stands to reason that he met with Phillip Hurn in London after these documents were discovered.13

The Burrell Collection, named after Mary Burrell, a British researcher and biographer, contains several hundred items, most of them “autograph signed letters and a substantial sheaf of autograph musical manuscripts.”14 Burrell obtained these items to write an extensive biography of the composer, but died in 1898 before completing this task. Among the items in this collection were letters from Wagner to Minna Planer, his first wife. Although Wagner retrieved many of these letters from Minna’s daughter Natalie, Natalie had kept many of them to herself, which were later obtained by Mary Burrell and her husband Willoughby Burrell.

The book was the target of much criticism. Some were indifferent, such as when one reviewer would not even write a review of the book, claiming that “the truth about Wagner…is contained in his music. There is nothing about music in the book. A review of it would therefore be of no interest” to musicians.15 Others exposed a bit more about the general problems, such as one reviewer writing that “without subjecting its statements to any close test, it can be said that…it does not succeed in proving the case which it sets out to establish.”16 The most severe criticism of Hurn and Root’s book came in the form of “a devastating reply” 17 known as Fact and Fiction about Wagner by Ernest Newman in 1931 whereby Hurn and Root “will have no choice but to consider themselves crushed by Mr. Newman.”18 Right from the Preface, before any actual debunking or corrections of Hurn and Root’s claims or strategies could be presented, Newman launched into criticism of a tone that has been described as “polemically extreme…[and] sneeringly condescending,”19 referring to their book as an “unspeakable volume [and to the]… pitiful smallness of their acquaintance with their subject and their constitutional inability either to reason accurately…or to do any original research.”20 It is the purpose of this paper to revisit a book “long since nullified”21 to not only mention some of Newman’s criticisms, but to present new concerns and questions that have arisen from a careful reading of the book.

Before discussing specific disconcerting statements in the book, it is worth noting the inconsistency between the reports of the Burrell discovery in the newspapers vs. how Hurn and Root describe it in their book. What Hurn and Root did not mention in their book on this point seems more interesting than what they did. They claimed that the discovery of the Burrell Collection was mentioned “in the press of every civilized country in the world on the morning of May 19. 1929.”22 It is not mentioned here that Hurn himself discovered the collection. However, The New York Times had this to say on the issue: “Secret love letters and original musical scores by Richard Wagner have been discovered accidentally in a London safe deposit vault…by Philip Hurn, young American author and playwright, he announces.”23 The Los Angeles Times reported similarly: “Documents worth a fortune have been brought to light here by Phillip Hurn, an American playwright, who has turned up the richest store of material by Richard Wagner, the famous German composer, that ever was brought together.”24 The Chicago Tribune indicated: “The documents were brought to light by Philip Hurn, an American playwright and a graduate of the Chicago Art Institute.”25 The Pittsburgh Press stated: “Documents…have been found in a safe-deposit box by the American playwright, Phillip Hurn.”26

This brings up the question: why did Hurn report to these newspapers that he had discovered these items, yet he did not indicate that he discovered them in his book? The book only mentions “the discovery of the documents.”27 Furthermore, Julius Kapp, writing in October 1929 in the introduction to The Women in Wagner’s Life, dated “Berlin-Westend, October 1929”, does not mention Hurn or Root nor their supposed May 1929 discovery of the Burrell Collection in his passage specifically about the Collection, quoted here in its entirety:

It was a godsend to me to obtain access to the catalogue of the Honourable Mrs. Burrell’s collection in England at the very time of rewriting the book. This lady, a fanatical Wagner expert, had for twenty years after the composer’s death been buying up all the Wagner material she could find, including the whole of Minna’s letters, which were in the possession of her daughter, Natalie. It was the only known collection from which I could hope to glean anything new. My book benefited therefore most unexpectedly by the use I was able to make of these valuable documents, which in some cases put a perfectly new construction on things.28

What is more, Kapp’s book was not published until 1932, giving him three extra years in which he could have included some kind of mention of Hurn and Root and their discovery in his introduction.

One questionable statement is their claim that “revolution in art was natural to him (Wagner). But revolution in politics we must refuse to take seriously…Letters from Wagner now show how little the revolution meant to him.”29 However, in his prose work, conspicuously titled “The Revolution,” Wagner calls upon the common people to prepare for the inevitable revolution in the most florid and glorious of terms and, according to Lundstrom, “sympathetically unite[s] the oppressed and finishe[s] with a stirring dramatic monologue by his goddess, the myth-like personification of the historical moment.”30 Additional explanation of this is necessary: “The Revolution” was published on April 8, 1849 in the Volksblätter, and the uprising took place in May of 1849. So, since this work was from April, an argument can be made that the Revolution, occurring afterwards in May, would not matter to him in the letters of June that Hurn and Root reference about this claim. But why would it not have mattered to him if the revolution was still “vibrating within him” 31 after his exile, causing him to write Art and Revolution in June 1849? What sense would it make that, after such a profound interest in and desire for such a revolution, the revolutionary spirit would suddenly not be in him anymore? Couldn’t it have been that he did not write about it much in some of his letters, and that it only seemed to not matter to him because, due to anger and frustration at becoming a political exile, after “many dangerous and difficult weeks of narrow escapes, of hiding with friends, of smuggling himself across borders and travelling under assumed names with false papers and finally a misguided false start in Paris,”32 while trying to establish himself as a composer, he just didn’t want to talk about it at that time?33 He expressed feelings of embarrassment over his situation to Liszt in a letter from June 19, 1849:

I forgot that by my much-talked of sympathy with the Dresden Rising I stand in a relation to these royal personages which must make them think of me as hostile in principle, and they would perhaps be amazed that I should turn to them of all people for help now, finding myself in need after the failure of the Rising.34

Lundstrom argues that The Artwork of the Future, published in the winter of 1849, indicated Wagner’s continued revolutionary passion at this time. Lundstrom referred to a letter to Theodor Uhlig in which Wagner mentioned “the social republic, which sooner or later must inevitably be established in France.”35 Regarding this, Lundstrom states that

"...the change in heart and attitude Wagner was experiencing had not lessened his devotion to the ‘Revolution.’ In fact, the ‘paralysation’ of his ‘last hopes for liberty,’ the inward-turning of his eyes ‘to his own soul,’ and the ‘plunging into the philosophical study of art’ all remained very much within the overall context of his dedication to the cause. Rather than recognize and repent his political follies in his despair, Wagner was merely shifting his focus, retrenching his forces on a new battlefield. The result was The Artwork of the Future.36

Hurn and Root also make statements that don’t seem to make much sense. For instance, they claim that “some pieces, known to have been in the [Burrell] collection, were lost and are still being sought.”37 This raises the question: how is it that materials were lost if the collection was locked in a safe-deposit vault from 1898-1929? Furthermore, which items are lost? If they know that certain items were lost, then they must know somehow that they were there at one time. Another example of this is their claim that

"...the copies [of the privately printed edition of the autobiography, Mein Leben] were to be made and placed in the hands of friends who could be trusted not to contradict the Bayreuth tradition, then in its infancy. Was it the intention to destroy these copies later, when their purpose should have been served?...Those copies were destroyed in 1911, before the publication of the authorized edition of the Autobiography.38

What sense does it make that these copies would have served some kind of purpose, and would then be destroyed so that they would not exist to be able to serve this purpose at a later time if necessary?

Hurn and Root also attempt to present evidence that is irrelevant and does not support the idea in question. For instance, in the chapter entitled “I am the son of Ludwig Geyer,”39 they advance the possibility that the actor Ludwig Geyer, who married Johanna Wagner after Carl Friederich’s death from typhus, was Richard Wagner’s biological father. In their attempt to show how close Geyer had bonded with Johanna, they state “nine months afterward [from the time of Carl’s death], at the earliest possible moment permitted by law of that time, Ludwig Geyer married Wagner’s mother and a child [Cacilie] was born six months later, on February 26, 1815.”40 In a chapter in which they propose that Geyer may have been Richard Wagner’s father, they reference a different child that was born after Richard, not Richard himself. That does nothing to bolster a theory that Geyer was Richard’s father.

It seems that Hurn and Root have contradicted themselves in certain places in their book. They claim that “the catalogue of the Burrell Collection [was] recently printed, but not yet issued to the public.”41 However, they state on page 33 that some obscure documents “are now cleared up by matter in the Burrell Collection, and others may be, before the long task of cataloguing and translating the mass of material is finished”. So, they claim that it is already printed, but then claim that it has not been catalogued yet, let alone printed. This brings up the question: why did they give these conflicting accounts of the publication of the Catalogue, in their book from 1930, since the Catalogue was actually printed and published in 1929? They had access to the Catalogue; they not only quoted from the summaries, written in the Catalogue, of the letters in the Collection42, but they made it quite clear that they had access to the Catalogue when they quoted at length from the Catalogue.

In addition, even though they had access to the Catalogue, they misquoted what the Catalogue said. In their chapter called “I am the son of Ludwig Geyer”, they wrote that “only fifteen copies were made” of the privately printed Autobiography.43 However, the Catalogue itself states that “he [Wagner] had a very small number of copies—either 18 or 15—printed by a certain Bonfantini at Basle.”44 Why would Hurn and Root have claimed that only fifteen were made when the main research source of their whole project, namely the Catalogue, said that either eighteen or fifteen were made?

In several places, they also seem to have distorted the statements or intentions of other writers on this topic. For example, they claim that the letter from April 20, 1855, in which “a gentleman in Dresden to whom Minna had appealed for help [states that] it is impossible to obtain a pardon for Wagner [for his participation in the Dresden uprising].”45 However, this letter as it appears in the John Burk edition of the Burrell Collection states the King “cannot pardon Richard alone—there can only be a general amnesty, which will certainly take place soon.”46 How could a letter state that something is impossible, yet state that it will take place very soon?47 Furthermore, the letter from the Burk edition does not state unequivocally that it is impossible for Wagner, but it would be impossible for Wagner alone. In a similar instance, Hurn and Root claim that Ludwig Karpath’s article in the Berlin Vossische Zeitung from May 26, 1929 about the Burrell Collection indicates “the fact that Wahnfried [the villa built for Wagner in Bayreuth] had not intended to permit comparison between the original ‘Mein Leben’ and the authorized edition.”48 However, this article does not indicate a suppression of comparison. According to how the article appears in Hurn and Root’s own book, it says “it is totally out of the question that it [the privately printed edition of the Autobiography in the Burrell Collection] should contain anything not in the Autobiography to be bought in any copy [referring to the 1911 ‘authorized’ edition].”49 This statement does not indicate a desire to forbid comparison or to not intend to permit it. In his typical biting and sarcastic style in Fact and Fiction About Wagner, Newman responds to this statement by Hurn and Root that “how it is established they do not condescend to tell us.”50

Another example of distortion occurs when Hurn and Root criticize Glasenapp, another one of Wagner’s biographers, for omitting information about Jessie Laussot, one of Wagner’s mistresses, stating that this omission “in itself should make us distrust every shred of matter that bears the imprint of Wahnfried.”51 Did Hurn and Root ever think, however, that given that Laussot was one affair among several in Wagner’s life, that Glasenapp may not have thought her to be significant enough to be included in his biography? Julius Kapp succinctly explained this: “The prime force in creative art is Eros. A more convincing proof of this maxim than is afforded by the life of Richard Wagner it would be hard to find in the cultural history of the human race.”52 In addition, it is an exaggeration to claim that just because this one bit of information was not included we should distrust every single thing Wahnfried has stated.

Probably the most flagrant example of their lack of evidence to support an idea is on the matter of the statement “I am the son of Ludwig Geyer,” supposedly appearing on the first page of the manuscript of the privately printed edition of Mein Leben (My Life), Wagner’s autobiography, given to Nietzsche for proofreading. According to Hurn and Root, Nietzsche had claimed that the first line of the manuscript of the privately printed autobiography, as it was given to him by Wagner to proofread, was “I am the son of Ludwig Geyer.” They arbitrarily wrote this without citing any evidence from any letter or other written passage that Nietzsche actually said or wrote this.53 It is important to note, however, that Hurn and Root are not the first people to make this claim without evidence. 54 Oscar Sonneck wrote the following in 1916:

" to Nietzsche, will those who operate with his name in this connection kindly step forward with a reference to when and where Nietzsche stated that Wagner’s autobiography, which (we know) had passed through his hands, opened with or contained the line ‘I am the son of Ludwig Geyer?’ In 1888 he merely averred that Richard Wagner’s ‘father was a stage-player named Geyer’—not a syllable to the effect of having seen this stated in Wagner’s autobiography.55

Newman made a similar statement in Fact and Fiction:

I invite them [Hurn and Root] to do what no one has yet succeeded in doing—to tell us when and where Nietzsche ever said anything of the kind…No one has ever been able to find such a passage in his letters or works, or to trace any record of any conversation in which he made such a statement56…Messrs. Hurn and Root have not put forward, and cannot put forward, a grain of evidence for their theory that Wagner’s original manuscript opened with ‘I am the son of Ludwig Geyer,’ and that he was persuaded to alter it by Cosima.57

But even though they may not have been the first to advance it, they still perpetuated that claim without providing evidence for it. Furthermore, Newman includes a facsimile of the first page of the privately printed edition, included below and dated July 14, 1865, that states “Mein Vater Friedrich Wagner”, so the evidence is quite strong that “I am the son of Ludwig Geyer” was not among the statements in those documents.

From Newman’s The Life of Richard Wagner, volume 2, between pages 156-157. This is a facsimile of the handwritten first page of the privately printed Autobiography. Since both Richard and Cosima’s initials appear, this probably indicates Richard’s approval of what was written, which was not “I am the son of Ludwig Geyer.” Furthermore, the phrase “Mein Vater Friederich Wagner is not only underlined, but appears to have been “right” the first time. It is not crossed or scratched out, nor does it appear to have been added or “squeezed” in haphazardly. It appears in typed-form in Martin Gregor-Dellin’s version, which contains the “emendations and interlineations” to which Newman refers, and which also indicates that the initials are those of Richard and Cosima: “über dem Manuskript von der Hand Cosima von Bülows: München, 17. Juli 1865, dahinter das Monogramm aus den ineinandergeschlungen Initialien Richard Wagners und Cosimas.”58 “The facsimile of the autograph of Mein Leben reproduced by Martin Gregor-Dellin drives a coach and horses through Nietzsche’s insinuations.”59

Not only that, but in addition to the lack of evidence that Mottl or Nietzsche saw this statement, and in addition to the statement from the first page of the manuscript mentioned above, an “Autobiographical Sketch,” appearing in February of 1843 in the Zeitung für die elegante Welt, many years before Nietzsche began examining the proofs/manuscript (1869), stated, quite similarly to the opening of the publicly printed Autobiography, “My father was a police registrar [Carl] and died six months after my birth. My stepfather, Ludwig Geyer, was an actor and painter.”60 61 It is also interesting that “no disclosure [of the idea that Wagner often discussed the idea that he might have been Geyer’s son] appears to have been made by any member of the Bayreuth circle apart from Nietzsche.”62

Newman claimed that proofs of the privately printed autobiography were also sent to Anton Pusinelli, his family physician. Newman included a letter to him from Elbert Lenrow, who would edit a book of Wagner’s letters to Pusinelli (The Letters of Richard Wagner to Anton Pusinelli, 1932). This letter was in regard to the question of differences between the proofs he was sent and the text of the actual autobiography, and in it Lenrow stated “there are half a dozen differences, consisting of slight alterations, transposition of words, the insertion and deletion of a few adjectives—the slight changes that one is apt to make in improving the style, rather than altering the meaning.”63 That Pusinelli, like Mottl to Karpath in the exchange explained above, did not mention that the proofs and the autobiography had different opening paternity statements lends additional support to the idea that the Geyer statement was not in the autobiography or the proofs. The final line of Newman’s book is “the survival of the proofs sent to Pusinelli places the matter beyond doubt.”64 However, it would have been helpful if he had included some quotations from the proofs or included a facsimile of them so that the matter really could be placed beyond doubt.65

Another example of making an assertion without providing evidence for it is the matter of the cast list for Wagner’s play Leubald und Adelaide. Hurn and Root include a photograph of it in their book (included below), with the caption “Leubald, List of Characters, Showing Corners Torn Off By Angry School Teacher.”

From Hurn and Root’s The Truth About Wagner, between pages 36-37. They claim that this page was torn by an angry school teacher without providing any evidence that it was.

Not only do they not provide any evidence that this was in fact torn by an angry school teacher, but the appearance of the page itself makes it highly doubtful that this would have happened. What sense would it make for a teacher to see a student “doodling” in class, neatly tear the bottom of the page off, leaving the actual drawing or words completely intact, and then return it back to the student? At least John Burk offered an explanation for this.66

This is not the only instance of this kind of arbitrary statement. In the article from The New York Times mentioned above, “he [Hurn] estimates the value of the documents at $1,500,000,” without giving any criteria for how he formulated that amount, nor does he indicate his qualifications as an appraiser. This brings up the confusing issue of different monetary values of the Collection that were reported. In the May 19, 1929 issue of the New York Times it is indicated that Hurn estimated that the collection was worth $1.5 million. (The May 20, 1929 issue of the Pittsburgh Press stated that they are “claimed to be worth $1,500,000,” but does not state that this was claimed by Hurn, unlike the New York Times article). However, in the April 7, 1930 Daily Northwestern, it is valued (without stating who made the estimation) at only $300,000-$400,000.67 Could this decrease in the value have been due to the October 1929 market crash? An Economics and Finance professor gave his opinion as a financial expert: “My initial thought is that Mr. Hurn's valuation68 was incorrect since it appears to be entirely subjective… I doubt that the stock market crash was a significant, causal factor in the decline in valuation. I am not sure how the Daily Northwestern came up with its valuation.”69

Another questionable practice is the use of the summaries of the letters in the Burrell Collection’s Catalogue, even though Hurn had supposedly discovered this collection, instead of quoting directly from the letters themselves. Newman claims that “three original letters, and only three, have been placed at their service by the owners of the collection.”70 John Burk would make a similar statement in his edition of the letters from the Burrell Collection: “It is now plain that they could have seen little more than the outside of the Collection, having succeeded in obtaining no more than three letters (Nos. 6971, 213, and 306), which they quoted in part. Otherwise the catalogue, and nothing else, was their springboard.”72 It makes one wonder: why would they only have obtained three letters to directly quote from if they had access to the Collection? (Remember that Hurn supposedly discovered the Collection.)

By comparing Hurn and Root’s description of individual letters in the Collection with their summaries in the Catalogue of the Collection, we can see that Newman is correct in saying that Hurn and Root

give just a line or two of summary of most of the letters [such as is found in the Catalogue]…The information they give as to the summarized letters goes no further than what is conveyed in the summary; and they employ, in general, the very language of the summary, though without the use of quotation marks or any other indication whatever that these numerous sentences are not their own.73 In one case they date a letter wrongly. Evidently, while quoting the summary of it, their eye has caught the date of the letter immediately preceding it in the catalogue.74 75

To illustrate this, it is necessary to compare their descriptions of the letters with the summaries contained in the Burrell Catalogue.

The Catalogue

Hurn and Root

Catalogue item #70, letter from June 3, 1836 to Minna: “This is another reproachful love letter from R.W. to Minna.”

Hurn and Root page 70: “Two days later [two days after June 1 in reference to the letter to Minna mentioned in the footnotes above] he writes again, reproachfully.”

Catalogue item # 181, letter from July 10, 1849 to Natalie: “He has plans to sell all his future operas in exchange for a ‘fixed salary from a very rich music lover.’”

Hurn and Root pages 106-107: “He writes to Natalie saying that he plans to sell all his future operas in exchange for a ‘fixed salary from a very rich music lover. This letter was written July 10, 1849.”

Catalogue item #204, letter from April 16, 1850 to Minna: “In this long letter R.W. sets out all his grievances against Minna and proposes separation.”

Hurn and Root page 163: “It was in a letter dated the 16th of April [1850], now in the Burrell Collection, in which he sets forth a long list of his grievances and tells Minna that he is leaving her…”

Catalogue item #207 (3), letter from September 14, 1850 to Kietz: “R.W. tells Kietz that he is poor, and quite frankly that the Ritters are supporting him.”

Hurn and Root pages 108-109: “On September 14, 1850, he tells Kietz that the Ritters are supporting him…”

Catalogue item #274, letter from April 20, 1855 to Minna from Fischarch: “This gentleman had been trying to effect R.W.’s pardon in Saxony, and explains why it cannot be effected.”

Hurn and Root page 135, as mentioned above: “A letter from a gentleman in Dresden…dated April 20, 1855…to whom Minna had appealed for help…[states] that it is impossible to obtain a pardon for Wagner.” As mentioned above, however, the letter says that a “general amnesty…will certainly take place very soon.”

Catalogue item #422 (1), letter from February 15, 1864 to Minna: “Sympathises with her on the death of her sister: kind letter.”

Hurn and Root page 81: “On February 15, 1864, he writes to her kindly to sympathize with her on the death of her sister…”

Catalogue item #422 (2), letter from May 26, 1864 to Minna: “The young King of Bavaria has invited R.W. to live near him: he wishes to have all his new works performed. R.W. has refused any official position, but accepted a pension and a house near his.”

Hurn and Root page 111: “On May 26, 1864, he writes to Minna…that he has accepted a pension and a home near the young King of Bavaria, who has offered to subsidize him.”

Catalogue item #435, letter from March 22, 1865 to Minna: “R.W. tells his wife the King is giving him 4,000 gulden for three years so that he can finish his Nibelungen: ‘What I want is peace at any price.’”

Hurn and Root page 111: “On March 22 of the following year he writes again, saying that the King is giving him 4,000 gulden per year for three years, so that he can finish the Ring in peace.”

Catalogue item #449, letter from January 9, 1866 from Minna to the Münchener Volksbote “to contradict an article in which it was stated that R.W. failed to maintain her…The date on which she gave this proof of loyalty is touching, for she died on Jan. 25.”

Hurn and Root page 83: “The anti-Wagnerian press of Munich had attacked Wagner for failing to maintain his wife, saying that she had been left in such poverty that she was forced to earn her living as a washer-woman. In a letter to the Münchner Volksbote Minna denied that charge. She gave this touching proof of her loyalty on January 9, 1866; on the 25th she was dead.”

Catalogue item #487 (1), letter from February 16, 1873 to Mm. Volz and Batz: “R.W. wants money and is litigating with Haase.”

Hurn and Root page 113: “On February 16, he writes for money, apparently to carry on a suit which he mentions.”

Catalogue item #487 (2), letter from March 20, 1873: “Must have money.”

Hurn and Root page 113: “On March 20 he writes again: he must have money.”

Catalogue item #487 (3), letter from March 26, 1873: “Further demand for money.”

Hurn and Root page 113: “March 26: money.”

Catalogue item #487 (5), letter from March 29, 1873: “Protests because Cosima’s dressmaker’s bill in Milan has not been paid.”

Hurn and Root page 113: “On March 29, there was a pleasant surprise; nothing about money- but that was saved for another letter of the same date in which he upbraids the firm for not having paid Cosima’s dressmaking bill.”

Catalogue item #487 (10), letter from June 30, 1873: “He has won his case, but there is an appeal. He must have 5,000 Thaler at once, and is ready to pledge his entire income for it.”

Hurn and Root page 113: “On June 30 he wins—and an appeal is lodged. He must have 5,000 thaler at once, and he is ready to pledge his entire income to get it.”

Catalogue item #487 (11), letter from July 2, 1873: “R.W. is apprehensive that he will never get anything out of the Haase litigation, for Haase will go on appealing.”

Hurn and Root page 113: “July 2 1873. Wagner is afraid he will never get anything out of his litigation.”

Catalogue item #487 (12), letter from August 15, 1875: “R.W. is in financial difficulties, and bothering to get more money.”

Hurn and Root page 113: “August 15 [, 1873, another wrongly dated letter]: he is in financial difficulties and wants money.”

Catalogue item #487 (15), letter from October 17, 1873: “R.W. asks for business information on several points and proposes a compromise over the Haase litigation, as he cannot furnish his house without the proceeds.”

Hurn and Root page 114: “October 17 [, 1873]: he suggests a compromise on the suit, so that he can furnish his house.”

Catalogue item #487 (16), letter from November 23, 1873: “He thinks his prospects of getting any money from the Haase litigation dwindling.”

Hurn and Root page 114: “November 23 [, 1873]: he is very pessimistic about getting anything at all from the litigation.”

Catalogue item #489 (3), letter from April 12, 1874: “R.W. wants a draft for 2,100 Frs. on Lucerne to pay his servants. The furnishing of Wahnfried is exhausting his resources.”

Hurn and Root page 114: “On April 12 [, 1874], he asks for 2100 francs to pay his servants.”

Catalogue item #489 (7), letter from June 30, 1874: “Complaints and disputes about their activities and charges.”

Hurn and Root page 114: “One June 30 [, 1874], he disputes with his agents about their charges.”

Catalogue item #489 (8), letter from July 11, 1874: “R.W. instructs them to get money from Copenhagen, Pest, etc.”

Hurn and Root page 114: “On July 11 [, 1874] they must collect for him on performances at Copenhagen, Pesth, and elsewhere.”

Catalogue item #489 (11), letter from July 27, 1874: “R.W. encloses a letter from Copenhagen telling of his Danish successes; yet all he is to get for performing rights in his most popular operas is £40 for each.”

Hurn and Root pages 114-115: “He encloses a letter from Copenhagen describing the success of his work there and complaining (quite justly) that all he is to get for the performing rights is £40, on July 27 [, 1874].

Catalogue item #489 (13), letter from September 19, 1874: “R.W. wants another 1,000 florins before the end of the month; why has Buda Pest not paid?”

Hurn and Root page 115: “In September (they don’t even include the date on this one) he must have another 1000 florins; why has Buda-Pesth not paid up?”

Reading Newman’s Fact and Fiction About Wagner, as well as reading The Truth About Wagner more critically and intensively, has been an entertaining and enlightening exercise. It has been an invaluable lesson in reading much more carefully and question those aspects and statements of research that are dubious or inexplicable.


(no author indicated77) Catalogue of the Burrell Collection of Wagner Documents, Letters, and other Biographical Material. London: The Nonpareil Press, 1929.

(no author indicated) “Backtalk to Bayreuth.” Time 25 (April 7, 1930): 60.

(no author indicated) “Former Local Man is Author and Playwrite,” The Daily Northwestern, April 7, 1930.

(no author indicated) “Letter Reveal Love Tragedy in Life of Wagner—Lost Manuscripts Found by American Playwright,” The Chicago Tribune, May 19, 1929.

(no author indicated) “Music and Musicians: ‘The Truth About Wagner.’” The Scotsman (February 27, 1930): 12-13.

(no author indicated) “Reports Discovering Wagner’s Love Letters: American Author Tells of Finding Documents in London Safe—Puts Value at $1,500,00,” The New York Times, May 19, 1929.

(no author indicated) “Valued Wagner Find Unearthed,” The Los Angeles Times, May 20, 1929.

(no author indicated) “Wagner’s Secret Love Notes Reported Found—Documents Said to be Worth Million and Half Dollars,” The Pittsburgh Press, May 20, 1929.

Altmann, William, editor. Letters of Richard Wagner. London: J. M. Dent and Sons, Ltd., 1927.

B, E. “Review: Fact and Fiction About Wagner.” Music and Letters 12 (1931): 411-413.

Barth, Herbert, Dietrich Mark and Egon Voss, editors. Wagner: A Documentary Study. London: Thames and Hudson, 1975.

Burk, John, editor. Letters of Richard Wagner, The Burrell Collection. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1950.

--------“The Burrell Collection.” Etude 69 (July 1951): 15+

F. W. “Reviews of Books: Letters of Richard Wagner: The Burrell Collection.” Music and Letters 33 (1952): 154-157.

Hollinrake, Roger. “The Title-Page of Wagner’s ‘Mein Leben.’” Music and Letters 51 (1970): 415-422.

Huneker, James. The Pathos of Distance. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913.

Hutchinson, Sister M. Clare Lucille. “The Musical and Literary Manuscripts of Ferdinand Praeger (1815-1891) in the Moldenhauer Archives.” Ph.D. diss., Indiana University, 1969.

Hurn, Philip Dutton and Waverley Lewis Root. The Truth About Wagner. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1930.

Kapp, Julius. The Women in Wagner’s Life. London: George Routledge and Sons, Ltd., 1932.

Lundstrom, James Christian. “Richard Wagner’s Revolutionary Aesthetics as Reflected in Dramatic Theory, Dialectical Structure and the Gesamtkunstwerk.” Ph.D. diss., University of Oregon, 1983.

Meisel, Dr. John, email message to writer, February 26, 2010.

Newman, Ernest. Fact and Fiction About Wagner. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1931.

--------The Life of Richard Wagner, volume 2. New York: A. A. Knopf, 1937.

-------- Wagner as Man and Artist. Garden City: Garden City Publishing Co., Inc., 1937 (copyrighted by Newman in 1924).

Pope, Elizabeth, email message to writer, July 21, 2010.

Root, Diane Lane, email message to writer, May 27, 2010.

--------email message to writer, July 8, 2010.

--------email message to writer, July 22, 2010.

Shedlock, J.S. Richard Wagner’s Letters to his Dresden Friends. New York: Vienna House, 1972.

Sonneck, Oscar G. “Was Richard Wagner a Jew?” In Suum Cuique: Essays in Music, edited by Oscar G. Sonneck, 177-212. Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1969 reprint.

Spencer, Stewart, email message to writer, January 31, 2010.

-------- email message to writer, February 22, 2010.

--------email message to writer, February 23, 2010.

--------email message to writer, May 3, 2010.

Strangways, A. H. Fox. “Review of The Truth About Wagner.” Music and Letters 9 (1930): 200.

Wagner, Richard. “Art and Revolution.” In Richard Wagner’s Prose Works, volume 2, translated by William Ashton Ellis, 30-65. New York: Broude Brothers, 1966.

-------- Mein Leben. Edited by Martin Gregor Dellin. München: Paul List Verlag, 1963.

Walker, Elizabeth, email message to writer, April 27, 2010.

1 Sister M. Clare Lucille Hutchinson, “The Musical and Literary Manuscripts of Ferdinand Praeger (1815-1891) in the Moldenhauer Archives,” (Ph.D. diss., Indiana University, 1969), 63.

2 He is listed, at the age of 51, on August 30, 1945, as being the oldest person aboard the Alexander W. Doniphan, a vessel constructed by the United States Maritime Commission during WWII (record supplied by Joy Fisher, USGenWeb County Coordinator for Los Angeles County, California). The ship is listed at

3 This conflicts slightly with Florence’s statement, in an interview with author Emily Lieder, that she married him in August 1921 (this passage is at

4 The Oakland Tribune, “Novelist’s Wife is Granted Divorce,” May 20, 1929.

5 Suzanne Leacy, Records Department of the San Francisco Superior Court, email message to writer, March 29, 2010.

6 The 1930 Census record from San Francisco County indicates that Jane, born about 1923 according to Fisher, and also listed as being 7 years old at this 1930 Census, was listed as “Niece”. Although she was actually Florence’s daughter, Joy Fisher informed the writer that Jane was the niece of the head of the household, an individual named George, and that is why she is listed as “Niece.” In the interview with Emily Lieder, Florence mentions on pages 4, 6, 53, 66, and 68 that George was her brother, and also on page 68 states “My brother [George] was in real estate.” The 1930 census record indicates George, right above Florence Hurn and listed as the head of the household, as “Broker—Real Estate. “

7 The New York Times, “Waverley L. Root, 79, Journalist,” Obituary, October 31, 1982. Brought to the writer’s attention by Rosemarie Cerminaro from Simon and Schuster, one of Root’s publishers.

8 His literary output includes such books as Best of Italian Cooking, Herbs and Spices: A Guide to Culinary Seasoning, Herbs and Spices: The Pursuit of Flavor, Contemporary French Cooking, Cooking of Italy, Eating in America: A History, Food: An Authoritative and Visual History and Dictionary of the Foods of the World, Food of France, Food of Italy, and Paris Dining Guide.

9 Email message from Diane Lane Root, Waverley Root’s daughter, May 27, 2010.

10 Author not indicated. “Backtalk to Bayreuth,” Time, April 7, 1930.

11 Email message from Elizabeth Pope, researcher from the National Archives and Records Administration, July 21, 2010.

12 Email message from Diane Lane Root, July 8, 2010.

13 Diane Lane Root, email message to writer, July 22, 2010.

14 Catalogue of the Burrell Collection of Wagner Documents, Letters, and other Biographical Material (London: The Nonpareil Press, 1929), v.

15 A. H. Fox Strangways, “Review of The Truth About Wagner,” Music and Letters 9 (1930), 200.

16 The Scotsman, “Music and Musicians: ‘The Truth About Wagner,’” February 27, 1930.

17 F.W., “Reviews of Books: Letters of Richard Wagner: The Burrell Collection,” Music and Letters 33 (1952), 154.

18 E.B., “Review: Fact and Fiction About Wagner,” Music and Letters 12 (1931), 412.

19 Stewart Spencer, email to writer, January 31, 2010.

20 Ernest Newman, Fact and Fiction About Wagner (New York: A. A. Knopf, 1931), xvi.

21 John Burk, editor, Letters of Richard Wagner, The Burrell Collection (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1950), 4.

22 Philip Dutton Hurn and Waverley Lewis Root, The Truth About Wagner (New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1930), 5.

23 Emphasis added, The New York Times, “Reports Discovering Wagner’s Love Letters: American Author Tells of Finding Documents in London Safe—Puts Value at $1,500,000,” May 19, 1929.

24 Emphasis added, The Los Angeles Times, “Valued Wagner Find Unearthed,” May 20, 1929.

25 Emphasis added, The Chicago Tribune, “Letters Reveal Love Tragedy in Life of Wagner—Lost Manuscripts Found By American Playwright,” May 19, 1929. The writer was informed by the Alumni Office at the Art Institute of Chicago (email to writer from March 4, 2010) that a Philip Hurn attended from 1914-1915, and was able to receive his transcripts. The writer also found out in a phone call of May 6, 2010 that this is the only individual named Philip Hurn that appears in the School’s records from the time it opened to the present.

26 Emphasis added, The Pittsburgh Press, “Wagner’s Secret Love Notes Reported Found- Documents Said to Be Worth Million and Half Dollars,” May 20, 1929.

27 Hurn and Root 1930, 5.

28 Julius Kapp, The Women in Wagner’s Life (London: George Routledge and Sons, Ltd., 1932), xii.

29 Hurn and Root 1930, 119-129. Hurn and Root indicate that the letters to Minna from June 4, 1849 and June 20, 1849 are examples of letters that show how little the revolution meant to him. However, neither of these letters contains explicit denunciations of the revolution. They contain instead, between the two of them, one less than forceful statement about this: “I no longer know anything about conditions in Germany. To be frank, I don’t much care” (Burk 1950, 244). Considering how he was to later “sigh” for revolution, it seems that the apathy towards the revolution was very temporary, and it may have been due to anger or shame that Wagner felt as a result of his involvement in the situation. Could the reduction in importance that the revolution may have had in some of his letters have had something to do with his emotional state in the wake of his exile from Dresden? Could it have meant a great deal to him, but he just didn’t want to talk about it at those particular times?

30 James Christian Lundstrom, “Richard Wagner’s Revolutionary Aesthetics as Reflected in Dramatic Theory, Dialectical Structure and the Gesamtkunstwerk,” (Ph.D. diss., The University of Oregon, 1983), 41.

31 Ernest Newman, The Life of Richard Wagner, volume 2 (New York: A. A. Knopf, 1937), 121.

32 Lundstrom 1983, 125.

33 It makes sense that at that particular time, he would not have wanted to write about the Dresden Revolution. It is interesting that in a later letter from July 2, 1851, he writes “I long passionately for Revolution, and only the hope of experiencing it and partaking in it is what gives me the courage to live” (Burk 1950, 184). In the same letter, he explains how he has just written the text to Der junge Siegfried (The Young Siegfried, the opera that would precede Götterdämmerung), that Opera and Drama would be published about two months from then, and that “for the rest things are going along well enough” (Burk 1950, 184). It appears that he was in a busy period of creativity and preparation for his next compositions, and perhaps this made him happy and in sufficiently high spirits to be talking once more about a Revolution. Maybe he was back in a mental state in which he wanted to talk about it.

34 William Altmann, editor, Letters of Richard Wagner (London: J. M. Dent and Sons, Ltd., 1927), 157.

35 J. S. Shedlock, Richard Wagner’s Letters to His Dresden Friends (New York: Vienna House, 1972), 19.

36 Lundstrom 1983, 183.

37 Hurn and Root 1930, 7-8.

38 Hurn and Root 1930, 34.

39 This particular statement will be elaborated upon below.

40 Hurn and Root 1930, 26.

41 Hurn and Root 1930, 12.

42 As will be explained below, Hurn and Root derived the majority of their reference to individual letters from the Catalogue and not from the letters themselves.

43 Hurn and Root 1930, 21.

44 Catalogue of the Burrell Collection of Wagner Documents 1929, viii.

45 Hurn and Root 1930, 135.

46 Burk 1950, 501.

47 As will be explained below, this appears to be an instance in which Hurn and Root merely quote from the summaries in the Catalogue of the letters in the Collection rather than quoting from the letters themselves.

48 Hurn and Root 1930, 141.

49 Hurn and Root 1930, 141.

50 Newman 1931, 305.

51 Hurn and Root 1930, 147.

52 Kapp 1932, ix.

53 “These words, according to Friedrich Nietzsche, opened the manuscript of ‘Mein Leben’, the privately printed Autobiography of Wagner” (Hurn and Root 1930, 21). But they do not explain when or where Nietzsche had supposedly said or written this.

54 In The Pathos of Distance, James Huneker wrote that “the late Felix Mottl in the presence of several well-known music critics of New York City declared in 1904 that he had read the above statement.”

-James Huneker, The Pathos of Distance (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913), 89.

In a fashion similar to Hurn and Root, but seventeen years before their book, Huneker does not give any evidence that Mottl actually said this. Stewart Spencer believes that, if Mottl did say this, that it was said because “Mottl was also very close to Cosima, who treated him as her second son until 1903/4, when he was vaguely associated with the performances of Parsifal at the Met that she did everything in her power to prevent. Worse, Mottl accepted the artistic directorship of the new Wagner Festival in Munich, at which point he became persona non grata in the Wagners' circle. As was their wont, the Wagners then mounted a campaign of vilification against him. He may simply have been getting his own back when he made the statement that's imputed to him” (email from Stewart Spencer, February 22, 2010). Interestingly, Hurn and Root did not include Mottl’s statement of this in 1904, Huneker’s reference to the statement in his book from 1913, or Sonneck’s reference to it in his essay from 1916, in their book from 1930, many years after this was in print in Huneker’s book and Sonneck’s article, to bolster their case. Also, Newman indicated that “Ludwig Karpath, who…has gone at first hand into the question of the differences between the private and public imprints of Mein Leben, tells us that after the issue of the latter he discussed the subject with Richter and Mottl, both of whom were acquainted with the original. He asked them what ground, if any, there was for the stories current even then (soon after 1911) of a ‘manipulation’ of the text. ‘Both Richter and Mottl’, he says, ‘repeatedly assured me that they knew nothing of any important alterations—that the public edition could differ only in a few trifling details from the private edition.’ It is quite certain that had Mottl had the slightest reason to believe that the autobiography originally contained the words ‘I am the son of Ludwig Geyer’ he would have mentioned this to Karpath: this, assuredly, was anything but a trifling detail. One finally does not know what to make of Huneker’s statement” (Newman 1931, 175).

55 Oscar G. Sonneck, “Was Richard Wagner a Jew?” in Suum Cuique: Essays in Music, edited by Oscar G. Sonneck (Freeport: New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1916 epilogue), 209.

56 Newman contends that “I am the son of Ludwig Geyer” was “a later fanciful embroidery upon the well known sentences…from [Nietzsche’s] Der Fall Wagner [“Was he [Wagner] a German at all?...His father was an actor of the name of Geyer”] (Newman 1931, 240).

57 Newman 1931, 240-241.

58 Translated roughly: “over the manuscript of Cosima von Bülow’s hand…are the initials of Richard and Cosima, one into another.”

-Richard Wagner, edited by Martin Gregor-Dellin, Mein Leben (München: Paul List Verlag, 1963), 9.

59 Stewart Spencer, email message to writer, February 23, 2010.

60 Herbert Barth, Dietrich Mark, and Egon Voss, editors, Wagner: A Documentary Study (London: Thames and Hudson, 1975), 11.

61 Newman asserted that “Mottl could not have seen ‘I am the son of Ludwig Geyer’ at the commencement of Mein Leben, for the simple reason that it is not there and never was there” (Newman 1931, 175).

62 Roger Hollinrake, “The Title-Page of Wagner’s ‘Mein Leben,’” Music and Letters 51 (1970): 415-422.

63 Newman 1931, quoting Lenrow’s letter to him, 308.

64 Newman 1931, 309.

65 The writer was interested in finding out if these proofs were still extant, so that we could, as Lenrow stated, place the matter beyond doubt. After finding out that the Collection was kept at the library of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, the writer called Elizabeth Walker, the head librarian, to ask if the proofs, or the privately printed Autobiography, were in the Collection at Curtis. She informed him that in 1978 individual pieces of the Collection were sold to various buyers, and that furthermore, the Pusinelli proofs were not in the Collection. She told him that when the library was about to go under renovation, she was responsible for packing and storing many materials, among them the Burrell materials, and that these Pusinelli proofs were not there. She informed him in an email of April 27, 2010 that only a small autographed sketchbook and a manuscript of Senta’s ballad from The Flying Dutchman were not sold.

66 “Messrs. Hurn and Root, in The Truth About Wagner, have reproduced the reverse of the title page (showing the cast), and a page of the text, having obtained photographs of these from the Burrell Collection. The authors state that the bottom of the first page was ‘torn off by an angry school teacher.’ This is another case of leaping to a false conclusion. The deed was done by an eccentric autograph collector to whom Natalie showed the manuscript. When Natalie refused to let him have the manuscript, he impudently tore off and pocketed Wagner’s signature. Hugo Thärmann, for this was his name, was incidentally, a teacher” (Burk 1950, 14-15). While this may have been done by someone who was a teacher, it does not necessarily mean that this person was Wagner’s teacher, as Hurn and Root insinuated. Even though the caption in this picture reads merely “angry school teacher,” they mentioned that “for spending his time in composing this early work [Leubald], the boy got into trouble with his teachers and his family,” presumably causing one of his teachers to tear this paper (emphasis added, Hurn and Root 1930, 35).

67 The Daily Northwestern, “Former Local Man is Author and Playwrite,” April 7, 1930.

68 If it was in fact Hurn’s personal valuation, which it seems to have been, since The New York Times article mentioned above indicates that he had made appraisals himself in the past.

69 Dr. John Meisel, email message to writer, February 26, 2010.

70 Newman 1931, 294.

71 Burk claimed that Hurn and Root had direct access to this letter. However, by comparing the summary of this letter from the Catalogue to that provided by Hurn and Root, it appears that they may not have even obtained this letter but merely quoted from the Burrell summary. The Catalogue’s entry for item #69, a letter from May 29, 1836 to Minna, is: “This is a burning love letter: ‘arrange everything so that I can come very soon and we can get married quickly.’ It runs on to June 1 and mentions their first meeting at Leuchstadt two years before” (Catalogue of the Burrell Collection 1929, 11). The corresponding summary provided by Hurn and Root is: “Then comes a long letter begun on May 29 [, 1836] and not finished until June 1. It is a burning love-letter, and Wagner is hoping for the post in Koenigsberg near Minna. ‘Arrange everything so that I can come very soon and we can get married quickly,’ he writes. He refers tenderly to their first meeting” (Hurn and Root 1930, 70).

72 Burk 1950, 4.

73 I use quotation marks in the table merely to indicate that I am quoting from Hurn and Root’s book. Newman is right in what he said.

74 Newman 1931, 294-295. Hurn and Root state that “on October 10, 1868, he [Wagner] wrote her ]Natalie, Minna’s illegitimate daughter] an almost threatening letter, demanding his letters to Minna” (Hurn and Root 1930, 84-85). However, as Newman indicated, Hurn and Root dated this letter wrongly, with the date of the letter that appears above the one in question. The Burrell Catalogue indicates that the letter in which “he [Wagner] claims back, in almost threatening language, from Natalie the letters he had written to Minna” was actually from November 27, 1868 (Catalogue of the Burrell Collection 1929, 82).

75 There are more instances of Hurn and Root dating a letter wrongly. “Skipping a pressing letter on May 5[,1873], we discover that unless he wins his case he cannot pay for Wahnfried, the sumptuous villa he is building” (Hurn and Root 1930, 113). However, the Burrell Catalogue indicates that the letter in which Wagner states “unless he wins his case, he cannot pay for Wahnfried” was from May 5, 1875 (Catalogue of the Burrell Collection 1929, 90). Furthermore, it seems that Hurn and Root meant to use the word “skimming” and not “skipping.” It seems that that makes more sense. In addition, Hurn and Root claim that a letter that indicates that Wagner is “in financial difficulties and wants money” was from August 15, 1873. The Burrell Catalogue indicates that the letter stating “R.W. is in financial difficulties, and bothering to get more money” was actually from August 15, 1875 (Catalogue of the Burrell Collection 1929, 90). It may seem like the Burrell Catalogue itself contains typos, in that these letters may actually be from 1873, considering that they appear in a list of letters from 1873 and that perhaps a typist made errors of typing 1875 when typing the Catalogue. However, Burk himself acknowledged that the Catalogue’s “chronology [is] not always faultless” (Burk 1950, 441). For example, Catalogue item #246 (4) is from August 27, 1853, and the very next item, #247, is from an earlier date, on August 17, 1853 (Catalogue of the Burrell Collection 1929, 45). It therefore seems that the Catalogue is not in perfect chronological order.


77 John Burk wrote that those who assembled the catalogue were “anonymous compliers” (Burk 1951, 49).