Title and statement of responsibility area
Else Lübcke Seel fonds
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CA UVICARCH SC111
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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)
Dates of creation area
1839 - 1973 (Creation)
Physical description area
2.3 m of textual records and other material
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Archival description area
Name of creator
Else Lübcke Seel was born in 1894 in Schivelbein, Pomerania. After the end of World War I, she moved with her mother and aunt to Berlin, where she worked in the archives of a bank. She began writing and became well-known in Berlin's literary circles. In 1927, after an unhappy love affair with the Danish writer Martin Andersen-Nexö, she decided to emigrate to Canada. Upon her arrival in Vancouver she met George Seel, a prospector and trapper who lived in central British Columbia. They were married soon after her arrival and settled in George's one-room cabin near Ootsa Lake, some 600 miles north of Vancouver. They lived there for 25 years; Else was frequently left on her own for several months at a time to raise their two children while George was away trapping and prospecting for gold. She kept a diary and wrote short stories and poems about her experiences among the settlers around Ootsa Lake.
The Seels were beset by hardships during their years at Ootsa Lake; George's income was frequently very small, especially during the Depression of the 1930's, and as German immigrants, they were often harassed by their neighbours during World War II. In 1948-1949 the properties around the lake were faced with flooding due to the proposed Alcan dam, so the Seels began planning to move elsewhere. In 1949, however, George Seel died suddenly of pneumonia; Else and the children moved to Victoria and later settled in Vancouver. She continued to write stories and novels; her book, Kanadisches Tagebuch was published in Germany in 1964. It was translated into English by UVic. Professor Rodney Symington as Canadian Diary in 1974. (It remains unpublished in April of 2002.) Her work impressed Prof. Symington, who described her as "one of those rare pioneers who could write".
In December 1946, Seel read a newspaper report of Ezra Pound's confinement in St. Elizabeth's Hospital; troubled by the paper's account of Pound's incarceration, she sent him a few words of encouragement, thus beginning a ten-year exchange of letters with Pound and his wife Dorothy. Seel kept the letters she received from the Pounds (over 100 in all) and also kept copies of letters she sent to them. Prof. Symington has commented on the remarkable characteristics of their correspondence; as he says, "It is a remarkable fact that Else Seel from her lonely log-cabin in the forests of British Columbia played for five years the role of cultural mediator between German culture and Ezra Pound. In fact, it is true to say that between 1947 and 1953 she was one of Ezra Pound's chief consultants on German culture and history." Pound and Seel never met, but their exchange of letters proved extremely important to both of them.
Else Seel died in Vancouver in February 1974.
Scope and content
The fonds consists of birth and marriage certificates, household accounts and naturalization papers; diaries and notebooks kept by Else Seel, including prose fragments, poetry, notes, draft letters to and about Ezra Pound, and ideas for stories and poems; carbon typescripts of works by Jim Clark and H.E. von Wittgenstein; music and lyrics written by Seel and others; coloured drawings of Else Lübcke, Gloria Seel, landscape scenes and copy of Emily Carr's "D'Sonoqua"; correspondence with family, friends and fellow writers, including Ezra and Dorothy Pound; photographs and photo albums of Else Seel with family and friends in Germany and Canada; transcripts and carbons of Seel's prose work, including stories in German and variant drafts of "Kanadisches Tagebuch" (Canadian Diary), and book reviews written by Seel; transcript drafts of German and English poems by Seel and translations by Seel of other poems; transcripts and clippings of Seel's published poems and prose and reviews of her work; German books on history and literature, musical scores, audio tapes of works read by Seel and others, and tape of family gatherings; scrapbooks of visits to California and mementos of Victoria.
Immediate source of acquisition
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Availability of other formats
Selection of material from fonds available through UVic Digital Collections: http://contentdm.library.uvic.ca/cdm/landingpage/collection/collection43
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Inventory available with series and file level control.
Generated finding aid
Includes ca. 1,000 photographs; 7 sound tape reels; 4 drawings.
Subject access points
- Authors, German--Correspondence
- British Columbia--Photographs
- Clark, Jim. Jackpot for a life
- Frontier and pioneer life--British Columbia
- German literature--20th century
- Ootsa Lake (B.C.)--Photographs
- Seel, Else, 1894-1974. Kanadisches Tagebuch
- Seel, Else, 1894-1974--Musical settings
- Von Wittgenstein, H.E.. Kanada: Romantisches Mosaik
- Wistaria (B.C.)--Photographs
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Dates of creation, revision and deletion
Revised by JF, June 27, 2013.
Inventory completed by Dietrich Bertz, July 1991; updated by JF, March 2009.
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