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HELD, Wolfgang (1933-2016)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0370 WH
Held at: Queen Mary, University of London
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Full title: HELD, Wolfgang (1933-2016)
Date(s): 1933-2016
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 100 boxes
Name of creator(s): Held | Wolfgang | 1933-2016 | writer and translator
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Wolfgang Held (1933-2016) was a writer, translator, artist and musician, and a key figure in Anglo-German literary relations.

Born in Frieburg, Germany, in 1933. Educated in Karlsruhe, Heidelberg and Freiburg. Completed a PhD on the Austrian poet, Georg Trakl, and subsequently spent four years at the University of Madras. Taught at the University of Ljubljana, in the former Yugoslavia, in the 1960s. Moved to Edinburgh (by 1971) and then to Greenwich University. Retired in 1985, to focus on his own writing.

His translation work includes German translations of Wyndham Lewis, T.S. Eliot, Samuel Beckett, Michael Holroyd's biography on George Bernhard Shaw and the poetry of John Donne and Emily Brontë.

His novels include Die im Glashaus (Those in Glass Houses, 1965), Ein Brief des Jüngeren Plinius (A Letter from Pliny the Younger, 1979), Rabenkind (Raven Child, 1985), Geschichte der Abgeschnittenen Hand (Tale of the Severed Hand, 1994), Traum vom Hungerturm (Dream of the Hunger Tower, 2007) and Schattenfabel (Shadow Tale, 2014). He also wrote a play, Hoffmanns Verbrennung (Hoffmann’s Burning, 1986).

As a pianist Held gave concerts and made recordings and commentaries for German radio. He also published a biography of Robert and Clara Schumann, Manches Geht in Nacht Verloren (Things Go Astray in the Night, 1998), republished as Geliebte Clara (Beloved Clara, 2008).

Held was also a collagist and hosted the Raven Studio in his London home from 1989-1992, exhibiting works by other contemporary artists.

His first wife was Eva (nee Hellmansberger). The pair later divorced. Married his second wife Madeline in 1971, with whom he had a daughter, Natasha.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of writer, translator, artist and musician Wolfgang Held (1933-2016).

Contains personal papers including material relating to Held’s time at school and university, diaries, letters, photographs, slides, magazines, medals, an astrology chart, letters of condolence and address books.

Family papers relating to his father Fritz Held and his ancestry, as well as family photographs, school books, certificates and related documents.

Work papers including notebooks, working notes and texts, research material, unpublished writing, published prose, papers relating to published works, poetry and poetry translations, papers relating to Raven Studio, prizes and awards, files of notes and notebooks relating to his translation work, radio commentaries and piano recitals.

Audio recordings (compact discs and cassette tapes) of Held's literary works and piano recitals for German radio stations.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English, German.

System of arrangement:

Not yet determined.

Conditions governing access:

Apply to Archivist. The Archives are available for access in the Archives Reading Room located on the 2nd Floor of the Mile End Library. The Archives Reading Room is open Mondays to Fridays 9am-4pm by appointment only. Contact the Archives for more information: Archives, Main Library QMUL, 328 Mile End Rd, London E1 4NS, telephone: 020 7882 3873, email: For more information about the Archives see the website:

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright of the personal papers has been transferred to Queen Mary, with the exception of copyright of original artwork and unpublished works which is retained by the Wolfgang Held Estate. Applications for copies for research or publication should be made to the Archivist: Main Library QMUL, 328 Mile End Rd, London E1 4NS, telephone: 020 7882 7873, email:

Finding aids:

Online. A detailed handlist is also available for part of the collection. Please contact the archives for more information.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

90 boxes were transferred as a gift from the Wolfgang Held Estate to Queen Mary in November 2017. 10 further boxes were transferred in September 2018.

Allied Materials

Related material:

A series of Held's published works were donated with the archive and are catalogued on the QMUL Library catalogue at:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
March 2019.

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