Blind, Mathilde (1841–1896)

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Blind, Mathilde (1841–1896)

German-English poet. Name variations: (pseudonym) Claude Lake. Born Mathilde Cohen in Mannheim, Germany, on March 21, 1841; died in London, England, on November 26, 1896, bequeathing her property to Newnham College, Cambridge; daughter of a banker named Cohen but assumed the name Blind from her stepfather Karl Blind (1826–1907); educated by her mother as well as at schools in England and in Zurich, Switzerland.

Though the daughter of a banker named Cohen, Mathilde Blind assumed the last name of her stepfather Karl Blind. A political writer, Karl was an ardent supporter of 19th-century movements for the liberty and autonomy of struggling nationalities and one of the leaders of the Baden insurrection in 1848–49. Because of this, the family was compelled to take refuge in England, where Mathilde devoted herself to literature and the higher education of women.

Mathilde's first volume of poems (published in 1867 under the pseudonym Claude Lake) was dedicated to her friend, Italian nationalist Giuseppe Mazzini. A critical essay on the poetical works of Shelley in the Westminster Review appeared under her own name in 1870; it was based upon W.M. Rosetti's edition on the poet. In 1872, she wrote an account of the life and writings of Shelley, to serve as an introduction to a selection of his poems in the Tauchnitz edition. She later edited a selection of letters of Lord Byron with an introduction, and a selection of his poems with a memoir.

Blind won fame with her own writings, which included the longer poems: "The Heather on Fire" (1886), an indignant protest against the evictions in the Scottish Highlands; "The Ascent of Man," which traces the progress of man from his primitive condition; and "The Prophecy of St. Oran" (1881), based on a Scottish legend. She wrote biographies of George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans , 1883) and Madame Roland (1886), and translated The Memoirs ofMarie Bashkirtseff (1890) and D.F. Strauss' The Old Faith and the New (1873–74). Her first novel Tarantella appeared in 1885.

Her minor poems, many of which are known as strong in feeling and admirable in form, entitled her to a distinguished place among the lyric poets of England. Blind was an ardent advocate of the betterment of the position of woman in society and the state. To this end, she worked and wrote for an improved education and against a one-sided morality for the sexes.

suggested reading:

A. Symons, ed. The Poetical Works of Mathilde Blind.