Living Legacies

C. S. Lewis, Tolkien, and the Gollancz connection


by Arend Smilde



How do very rich people spend their money? A tendency to assume infuriating rather than cheering answers to this question may be one of the breeding grounds of populism. Thus Hitler liked to suggest a connection between the supposed badness of Jews and the supposed badness of rich people. And perhaps indeed to be very rich is to have some peculiar temptations to badness. For the complete picture, however, at least some attention must be given to cases where great affluence appears to have had the opposite effect. I am going to give what I regard as one example of the latter course. It is not a classic or well-known example. It is an all but forgotten case of a century ago, and I only stumbled across it because, as it turned out, I may count myself among its distant beneficiaries.

            The stumbling happened as follows. Having translated more than a dozen books by C. S. Lewis into Dutch and so acquired the name of a ‘Lewis expert’ in some quarters, I tend to feel an obligation to live up to this reputation. One result of this is that I am perhaps absurdly keen to fill any gaps in my knowledge about this author. Thus in October 2008 I found at a Rotterdam bookstall a very rare book of Lewis’s (Rehabilitations, 1939), bought it for a song, and decided to throw away the photocopy with which I had contented myself so far. But I then saw that this photocopy included a short newspaper or magazine article on Lewis, stuck onto the endpapers of the original, a deaccessioned library copy from Cincinnati, Ohio, which a friend of mine had been lucky enough to find there many years ago. I could not trace the source of that article. It only mentioned the author and the year of publication: Ann Morley-Smith, 1950. But I read it – and was presented with a little gap in my knowledge. “Dr. Lewis” I read, “was the Gollancz Memorial Prizeman for 1937.”

            Oh (I mused), that must have been a prize he received for The Allegory of Love, which came out in 1936: good for Lewis – but what sort of prize was that and why don’t I know or remember anything about it? Checking the four biographies of Lewis which I have, I found that only one of them briefly mentions the Gollancz Prize (while failing to include it in the index). It is not mentioned on any of the 4,000 pages of C. S. Lewis’s Collected Letters. Who or what was this Gollancz? I did know that Victor Gollancz was a publisher who published many of George Orwell’s works and then, of all books, notoriously refused his masterpiece, Animal Farm. But in 1937 Victor Gollancz was, like Orwell, still rather at the beginning of his career. This made it highly improbable for any prize at that time to be named after him, let alone a ‘memorial prize’.

            A very little research was enough to reveal that there was – and still is – not only a Gollancz Memorial Prize but a Gollancz Memorial Lecture as well. And, interestingly, the lecture for 1936 was delivered by a close friends of Lewis’s in those days: J. R. R. Tolkien. The subject of that lecture was the Old English poem Beowulf. It was the period when Tolkien published The Hobbit and began to make his first moves toward writing The Lord of the Rings. By profession, however, both he and Lewis were Oxford scholars in the fields of early English language and literature. It was in this capacity, it seemed, that both men were honouring the memory of  ‘Gollancz’, whoever that was.

            I further found that the Gollancz Memorial Prize and Lecture were established in 1924 under the auspices of the British Academy. This institute had been set up in 1902 to promote ‘the humanities and social science’ (as we can now learn from its website at www.britac.ac.uk). The first ten series of annual or otherwise periodical lectures started in the years 1908-1925; after that the first new series was not launched until 1951. All of the first ten series have been continued down to the present day. First of all, in 1908, came the Schweich Lectures; next came the Warton Lectures in 1910; then the Shakespeare Lectures in 1911; and so on – the Sir Israel Gollancz Memorial Lectures being the ninth series, starting in 1924. The tenth was named after Sir John Rhys, who had been the first Professor of Celtic at Oxford.

            The founding of the British Academy was in a way the result, I think, of a movement which has its parallel in our own day. In the very week I was looking up the above details, mid-October 2008, the newspaper I regularly read featured a large article sounding the alarm over the fate of the humanities, whose importance, the author argued, is greatly underestimated by the authorities responsible for allotting the required funds. So great is the prestige of the sciences, and so great was it a century ago – in both cases quite deservedly – that the arts-and-humanities people feel, and felt, an urge to speak up and, if possible, take self-defending and self-promoting measures. One great advocate of this movement in the earlier period was the German philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey, who, in 1883, coined the inimitable word Geisteswissenschaften. Likely enough the foundation of the British Academy was at least in part a result of this struggle for academic life.

            Now one of the founders of the British Academy was Israel Gollancz, a scholar of early English literature. He was born in 1863, the sixth of seven children of a rabbi in London. As co-founder he also became the Academy’s first secretary and held the function until his death in 1930. From 1905 onward he was Professor of English Language and Literature at King’s College, London. In 1910 he married Alide Goldschmidt, a niece of Henriette Hertz, of whom more will be said in a moment. Knighted in 1919, Sir Israel became Editor of the Temple edition of Shakespeare’s works, one of the most widely used editions. He was an uncle of George Orwell’s publisher.



Sir Israel was not especially rich, as far as I know, and at any rate he is not the instance of great affluence I propose to investigate; but we are working our way toward the origin of the Prize named after him. It may be guessed that Gollancz had a lot to do with the annual lectures organized by the British Academy. As we saw, the ninth series was actually named after him and so was the prize that was established in the same year, 1924. At his request (reasonable enough if only because he was himself the first speaker in the series, with a lecture on ‘Old English Poetry’) his name was not attached to the Prize and Lecture until after his death; nor, of course, did either carry the designation ‘Memorial’ until then. They were initially called the Biennial Prize for English Literature and the Biennial Lecture on English Studies. In the end, however, the names attached to series or prizes are usually determined by the affluent parties who endow such things. And when it came to endowments, Gollancz enjoyed some good connections.

            The British Academy’s catalogue of Lectures mentions the benefactor in question, along with the starting year, for nearly every item on the list. In addition to the money and the name, this benefactor usually stipulated the kind of subject to be dealt with or the purpose to be pursued in the lectures, or both. Among the first ten series there is only one (the tenth, the Rhys Lectures) where no benefactor is mentioned. Three of the other nine were endowed by ‘Mrs Frida Mond’; three others by ‘Miss Henriette Hertz’; one by ‘Mrs Angela Mond’; and one (the first) by ‘Mrs Constance Schweich’, who was thereby honouring the memory of her father, Leopold Schweich. In only one case do we find the sort of English name and title one would expect to find much more often: ‘Sir Charles Wakefield (formerly Lord Mayor of London)’.

            So, eight of the first nine series of British Academy Lectures were endowed by four ladies with rather German-sounding surnames, with no title beyond a simple ‘Mrs’ or ‘Miss’. Who were they? The two whose names are mentioned only once proved impossible to identify from Internet sources. The German flavour of all the names was striking, however, and it seemed reasonable to suppose that ‘Mrs Angela Mond’ was somehow related to ‘Mrs Frida Mond’. Meanwhile I soon found a connection between the latter and ‘Miss Henriette Hertz’. And about these two ladies much more could be discovered with great ease.

            Frida Mond was born as Frederike Löwenthal, in 1847, of Jewish parents in Cologne; in 1866 she married Ludwig Mond, also of Jewish stock, who was born in Kassel in 1839. The young couple settled in England in 1867. Two sons were born very soon and no more children followed. Henriette Hertz, an art-loving friend of Frida’s from Cologne, and also of Jewish ancestry, soon began staying for long periods with the Monds in England. She is not to be confused (as I did for a while) with Henriette Herz-de Lemos, the famous Berlin salon hostess of the years around 1800. In time, the Henriette we are now dealing with became a confirmed expatriate like the Monds, although in her case this meant spending more and more of her time in Italy. She never married, and in 1904 she bought a house in Rome, the Palazzo Zuccari. Ludwig Mond had studied chemistry in Germany. Eager to put his knowledge into practice, he had begun working in England in 1862 without having obtained a degree. The first time he crossed the North Sea he did so on a cattle boat from Rotterdam, a circumstance which suggests he was not very rich at the time. In the years 1864-1867, which encompass the year of his marriage, he worked on and off for the chemical factory of P. Smits in Utrecht. He lived in that Dutch city for several short periods and there he and Frida spent the first few months of their married life. In England it took him some years to find a viable channel for his great passion: science-driven Progress. In 1873 he founded, in collaboration with Swiss-born John Brunner, the soda factory Brunner, Mond & Co., near the village of Winnington, Northwich, just south of the Mersey in northern Cheshire. From that day on he grew – to make a long story short – into one of England’s great industrialists and a major figure in the international chemical industry. At the same time he began to collect old paintings, and for this purpose in 1883 he hired a German art historian to advise him and act on his behalf. Perhaps the family friend Henriette Hertz was also consulted in these matters, for she too collected Old Masters.

            Equally devoted to high culture was Frida, who served on the committee of the English Goethe Society, helped to set up a ‘Goethe scholarship’, and assembled a large collection of memorabilia related to German literature, especially to the works and lives of Goethe and Schiller. In 1884 Ludwig and Frida moved to London and bought a French-style mansion just north of Regent’s Park, ‘The Poplars’. It was large and dry enough for the safe display of many paintings and more furniture. The property included outhouses to contain the laboratory Ludwig wanted to have always within reach, as well as extra space to accommodate the couple’s many guests of cultural and scientific distinction. In later years they would often spend the winter in Rome with Henriette in her (or more likely their) palazzo. Both of their two sons inherited the spirit of enterprise as well as the cultural interest of their parents. Robert, the elder, became a chemist and an archaeologist. In 1926 Alfred Mond, the other son, merged two of his father’s companies along with two others into Imperial Chemical Industries, better known as ICI; this giant was eventually (in January 2008) absorbed into AkzoNobel. Both sons were and did much more than can be recounted here. Both were knighted. Their wealth – at least Alfred’s – must have been proverbial by 1920, when T. S. Eliot wrote, in ‘A Cooking Egg’, I shall not want Capital in Heaven / For I shall meet Sir Alfred Mond. Alfred visited Palestine in 1921 and became a committed Zionist towards the end of his life.

            Ludwig died in 1909, Frida in 1923. They died rich but, as their history seems to show, not in any way disgraced.

            Frida Mond was a good friend of Israel Gollancz. Perhaps they became acquainted in the London Jewish milieu; and, since Frida had arrived in London as a 37-year-old paragon of social success when Israel was only 23, their friendship may have begun as a relation of patroness to protégé. One great thing Gollancz almost certainly owed to this connection was the happy marriage he enjoyed for the last twenty years of his life to Alide Goldschmidt, who was a niece of Frida’s friend Henriette. A painter, also of Jewish stock, she was twenty-two years his junior. Israel Gollancz’s friendship with Frida Mond must also have been the channel through which part of the money made by Ludwig Mond in the chemical industry flowed towards the British Academy’s project of promoting the humanities and social science. Lectures are, after all, an excellent means for academic institutions both to bestow and acquire prestige. Such mutual exaltation of speaker and institute might in itself seem a somewhat crude business, and it is perhaps hard to avoid occasional slips into humbug; nonetheless it generally seems to be a useful mechanism for providing incentives to the intellectual life of the nation.

            But of course such performances could hardly be staged without appropriately grand receptions and dinners, and the lectures themselves must be solemnized by the outward seal of limited luxury editions on hand-made paper, etcetera. In short, there are expenses involved. For the British Academy in its early decades, these appear to have been usually paid by Frida Mond, Henriette Hertz and the other two ladies. Henriette’s endowments may have been testamentary dispositions since the three Lectures she founded all began after 1913, the year of her death. She probably wasn’t any wealthier than Israel Gollancz; a recent dissertation about her suggests that it is hard to explain how she could have acquired her Roman palazzo unless it was Ludwig Mond who had bought it as a winter residence, allowing Henriette to live there the whole year round if she wished. Since Frida Mond died in 1923, her endowment of the Gollancz Prize and Lecture in 1924 may also have been a testamentary disposition. Nor can it be a coincidence that the steady addition of new Lectures to the British Academy’s program came to a halt for a quarter century after 1925.

            Among many other fruits of the life and work of Ludwig and Frida Mond and Henriette Hertz was Frida’s collection of literary memorabilia. She bequeathed it to King’s College, London, where Israel Gollancz held the chair of English. This was how KCL’s entrance at the Strand came to be adorned by the two large 19th-century German statues representing Sappho and Sophocles. They are still there, lending to the institution an atmosphere of solemn (and increasingly démodée) reverence for high culture. Most of the collection was of a more movable nature and provided the material for a travelling exhibition about the life and works of Goethe in 1982. Meanwhile the greatest of all the Mond cultural bequests, Ludwig’s collection of Italian old masters, including works of Mantegna, Raphael and Titian, was left to the National Gallery in London. It was one of the museum’s largest bequests ever. A special exhibition was devoted to it as recently as 2006.

            Henriette Hertz – to conclude this brief and incomplete survey of Mond-related legacies – spent her later years transforming the Palazzo Zuccari, at the top of the Spanish Steps, into un centro della vita intellettuale romana, as we are informed by the website of the Bibliotheca Hertziana. She set up this library, now an art history research instititue, and bequeathed it, along with the premises, to the Kaiser-Wilhelm- (now Max-Planck-) Gesellschaft. It remains there to the present day. Her own collection of paintings was bequeathed to the Italian State and found suitable accomodation in the Museo del Palazzo Venezia in Rome.



It was, then, from this cultural cornucopia that a certain share came C. S. Lewis’s way in 1937. All sorts of connections can be detected here. There would even seem to be a connection between the chemical industry and the humanities. As we saw, among the first nine Lectures launched at the British Academy there was just one which had not been launched by ladies with German names, but by a thoroughly Anglo-Saxon former Lord Mayor of London: and this man too had made his fortune in the chemical industry – as the producer of Castrol oils. In 1918 he endowed the Raleigh Lectures, on historical subjects.

            In the case of Lewis and Tolkien it would be frivolous to suggest a connection with the chemical industry; but some other links are worth noting. For Lewis, the Gollancz Memorial Prize was not his only connection with the British Academy. Six years after Tolkien’s Gollancz Memorial Lecture on ‘Beowulf: the Monsters and the Critics’, Lewis was invited to deliver the annual Shakespeare Lecture, and this resulted in ‘Hamlet: the Prince or the Poem?’ Although Lewis and Tolkien were soul-mates in important respects and their life stories have been told in combination, these two lectures are unlikely to be mentioned together except in the present context. But now that the two titles command our attention together, their likenesses leaps to the eye. And it is a significant likeness. Lewis and Tolkien were arguing for very similar positions. Tolkien contended that modern critics are too often treating Beowulf as a mere source of historical information about the Dark Ages, regrettably neglecting the ‘monsters’, i.e. the poetical, and indeed the moral element. Lewis contended that modern readers too often treat Shakespeare’s Hamlet as a psychological case and so fail to appreciate the atmosphere of the mystery of death (not of dying, but of being dead) which pervades the play as a whole: as if the Prince, not the Poem, were the main thing about Hamlet. Mature criticism requires a childlike receptiveness for the obvious, Lewis maintained. And that is largely what Tolkien argued about the older poem. Noticing this likeness should enrich the experience of anyone interested in either or both of these authors.

            Ten years later Lewis gave another Lecture for the British Academy, this time on the late-16th-century poem Hero and Leander by Christopher Marlowe and George Chapman. This was a Warton Lecture, established in 1910 by Frida Mond. Three years later, in 1955, when Lewis had just been appointed to the newly founded chair of Mediaeval and Renaissance English Literature at Cambridge, he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy. It is very hard to find out what this Fellowship of the British Academy meant to him: possibly nothing at all. He never referred to it in any of his published letters. In one letter, written shortly after his lecture on Hamlet of April 1942, he did tell his correspondent how he had felt about his audience: and the account suggests he was by no means in awe of them. The correspondent was Sister Penelope, one of the nuns in a convent at Wantage, near Oxford. Lewis had stayed there for two days, and lectured on ‘The Gospel in Our Generation’, immediately before het went to London to deliver his Shakespeare Lecture. The British Academy, he wrote to Sister Penelope on 11 May,

made a very stupid audience compared with your young ladies! They were all the sort of people whom one often sees getting out of taxis and going into some big doorway and wonders who on earth they are – all those beards and double chins and fur collars and lorgnettes. Now I know.

At that time Lewis was just completing his second science fiction novel, Perelandra, which he long judged to be his best work of fiction; and he dedicated it ‘to some ladies at Wantage’.

            At least – and at last – Lewis’s  Fellowship of the British Academy resulted in a fine obituary by his colleague Dame Helen Gardner. She emphasized the important role Lewis and Tolkien had played in promoting early English literature to the rank of a fully serious part of the curriculum at Oxford. After more such praise as was relevant here, she added, on a more critical note, that Lewis had been ‘out of touch with contemporary scholarship in his own field’. This memorial essay was published along with a professional portrait of a rather dejected-looking Lewis in the Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 51, now available, like so many things, from the Internet.

            Tolkien never seems to have been elected a Fellow of the British Academy.  Nevertheless, in view of both Tolkien’s and Lewis’s careers, it can now be seen to have been simply predictable that both men would somehow get involved with the memory and legacy of Sir Israel Gollancz and Mrs Frida Mond. Gollancz had made a reputation in the same field of early English literature and helped to promote it to the rank of an academic discipline. He was Director of the Early English Text Society, and, like Tolkien, was immersed in such mediaeval works as Pearl and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Frida Mond had established the Gollancz Memorial Prize and Lectures with the declared aim of honouring both his memory and his field of study. Lewis’s The Allegory of Love is such an outstanding contribution to this field that – as I see now – it would have been odd if Lewis had not been awarded this Prize.

            Similar considerations apply to the Warton Lectures, the series to which Lewis contributed in 1952. It was named after Thomas Warton, the 18th-century pioneer of English literary history. Warton was the editor of a Milton anthology and the author of a book on Spenser as well as a three-volume History of English Poetry; Lewis edited a Spenser anthology and wrote a book on Milton as well as a volume in the Oxford History of English Literature. Spenser and Milton were in fact Lewis’s two great favourites in pre-Wartonian English poetry and he made many of what are still considered the most important contributions to Spenser scholarship. It would have been odd if Lewis had never been invited to contribute to the Warton Lectures. His contributions to Shakespeare scholarship were more modest. We have Frida Mond to thank for her posthumous prodding of him into offering the world his maturely ‘childish’ meditations on Hamlet.



Hardly less fascinating to me than the background material I found to the Gollancz Memorial Prize was the fact that nearly everything I wanted to know proved to be readily available in a matter of hours from the Internet. However, there still are things that can only be discovered elsewhere. I had found and written up all, or roughly all, the details presented above when I suddenly remembered an autobiographical book published in 1953 by a certain Elisabeth (Lilì) Morani-Helbig. Born in Rome in 1868, the daughter of a German archaeologist and a Russian noblewoman, she was married to the Italian painter Alessandro Morani in 1897 and much later, shortly before her death, wrote Jugend im Abendrot – Römische Erinnerungen, a book of reminiscences of her early life. I extracted this memoir from one of two little boxes in the attic of my home in Utrecht, boxes whose contents several years ago had there ended a circuitous itinerary from Rome viâ Helsinki and Stockholm. They are full of letters, diaries and other records of the Helbig family, in at least five languages, some of the material barely legible. Lilì’s book is almost the only printed, and therefore easily accessible, item. The book has an index; and sure enough I found no less than ten references to Henriette Hertz. The Monds, though not mentioned in the index, are  also there, on some of the pages where Henriette makes her appearance.

            On the basis of diary notes Lilì Morani-Helbig wrote, more than half a century after the event, about a ‘merry excursion’ (fröhlicher Ausflug) in 1894. It  ended

at Henriette Hertz’s Palazzo Zuccari, where the table was laid for all. Henriette loved to be surrounded by what may be described as intellectual merry-making – and her friends were of that same mould.  [p. 354, my translation here and below]

It thus appears that Henriette was already residing there ten years before she had, as far as I knew, actually purchased the Palazzo Zuccari. As a ‘beloved friend’ she invited Lilì Helbig in September 1894 for an ‘art tour of North Italy’, later described by the aged Lilì as ‘one of the fondest memories of my life’ [358, 362]. Writing about an even earlier year, 1886, she mentions a choir where she sang and which was to develop into a ‘Roman Bach Society’,

which, as long as it existed, acquired the highest acclaim in the musical life of Rome for its performances of older music (...). It was a lay society, but Johann Sebastian Bach’s great spirit hung over us and took us to higher spheres. We passionately sang the sublime choirs of the Magnificat...

Among the regular audience both at rehearsals and performances she mentions

...Princess Venosa, Donna Giacinta Martini, Henriette Hertz, Mr and Mrs Mond – the three great patrons – Pietro Blaserna...  [followed by more names; p. 235]

One day the choir began using another place for rehearsals

where we found a magnificent organ, a gift from Henriette Hertz, that great lady who meant so very much for the cultural life of Rome. (...) I think that at her death the Bach Society’s existence came to an end too. I will hold her in grateful memory...  [236]



Personal affluence, then, appears to be a possible source of multifarious social blessings. At any rate the fortune of one early-20th-century Jewish industrialist clearly found much more benign uses than the undefined but immeasurably evil ones imagined by Hitler. Part of the Mond money in fact went to the promotion of some of the more edifying varieties of Deutschtum, such as the work of Goethe, Schiller and Bach. With a well-meant parody of Bach’s Cantata 147, the Roman Bach Society might have sung

            Hertz und Mond und Tat und Leben

            von Kultur muß Zeugnis geben

as a tribute to the ‘three great patrons’. While C. S. Lewis as a committed Christian might not have quite approved of this parody, as a Gollancz Memorial Prizeman he was helped forward in his early career by a piece from the same pie. And it is nice to know this for anyone who has, as I have, been helped forward by him.



Postscript, May 2009

I wrote this sketch of living legacies half a year ago out of sheer pleasure in the way a more or less coherent mass of details came to light through a few dozen mere mouseclicks. After that, it was hard to stop discovering facts and connections both deliberately and by serendipity. A small part of these later findings have been worked into the text above. Some of the rest, including one or two bibliographical notes, is presented in what follows.

            The dissertation I mentioned is Henriette Hertz, Mäzenin und Gründerin des Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rom (2004) by Julia Laura Rischbieter. I haven’t yet got hold of this book, but some of its contents were browsable during my first researches, and still are. A detailed description with illustrations of Frida Mond’s bequest to Kings’s College London is available at www.kcl.ac.uk/about/history/archives/mond. Frida has certainly left more traces in the cultural and academic life of England – and elsewhere. I recently read, for no reason connected with the present subject, the inaugural lecture of a new Cambridge professor of German in 1945. On the first page the names were mentioned of four ‘munificent benefactors to the University’: Frida Mond was one of them. In Italy, too, the Monds were certainly putting up a good show, as already appeared from Lilì Helbig’s remark about the Roman Bach Society’s drei großen Mäzenen, ‘three great patrons’.

            The Life of Ludwig Mond, a very readable biography written by J. M. Cohen, was published in 1956. It appears from the preface that the author, though obviously Jewish, had stumbled across the subject by accident and had as little previous knowledge or even awareness of it as I had, and as little knowledge of chemistry. Nevertheless his accounts of 19th-century developments in soda ash production, gas grids, tin mines and more were hard to skip. Ludwig Mond was not a very prosperous businessman at the start of his career in the late 1860s, but neither was he very poor, and in moments of real difficulty his father would step in and help him. Perhaps equally important, he was an incorrigible optimist about any industrial plan he conceived. Ludwig’s career in the chemical industry, especially in its early phase, seems to me remarkable in the way it was steered and punctuated by what we should today call environmental concerns. Perhaps his strongest single motive in discovering and perfecting new industrial processes appears to have been the wish to turn waste material into useful products. Although for his part he couldn’t wait till he had an academic degree, he remained an advocate of Science-driven Progress rather than Progress-driven Science. In 1889 he gave a lecture at the Society of Chemical Industry which is highly interesting for the way it states things that are now only too obvious. It testifies to what may now seem a hopelessly old-fashioned nobility of purpose. Choosing for his title ‘Necessity is the Mother of Invention’, Ludwig Mond told his audience that

the inventor is now frequently in advance of the wants of his time. He may even create new wants, to my mind a distinct step in the development of human culture.  [182]

In other words, he foresaw the straitjacket of Innovation for good or ill in which we try to keep up our spirits today – foresaw a time when, in fact, Invention has become the Mother of Necessity.

            In 1898 he attended the silver jubilee of Brunner & Mond as a 59-year-old millionaire. He was covered in worldly glory including honorary doctorates (more of which would follow) both English and foreign. He might have been expected at that point to begin a gradual retirement from business to live on his fortune. Instead, he undertook a fresh industrial adventure on a grand scale involving new Canadian tin mines and a new factory near Swansea in South Wales. A short stout man with a bristling beard and choleric temperament, he suffered a heart attack in 1902 and then, reluctantly, slowed down a little. He bought a car in Italy in 1908. He died on 11 December 1909, shortly after suffering another heart attack.

            The Mond money that went to cultural causes may have been only a small part of the man’s total benefactions. Perhaps the largest outpouring from his purse occurred after he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1891. As a token of gratitude to his country of adoption he funded the premises and full equipment for a chemical laboratory in London’s Albemarle Street: the Davy Faraday Laboratory, which is still in operation. In 1913 a bronze statue of Ludwig Mond was unveiled by John Brunner at Winnington.

            By birth and upbringing, Ludwig and Frida Mond were beneficiaries of the Jewish emancipation that accompanied the Enlightenment in Germany. The foundation of the German Empire in 1871 elicited some early enthusiasm in Frida, but both she and her husband developed an increasing antipathy toward their native country in its new political guise. In the end they would stop visiting it altogether, spending all the more of their time abroad in Italy. As regards religion, their lives signaled a sudden and total break with the past. Their parents, at least Ludwig’s, were observant Jews, fairly meticulous in keeping the Sabbath. It would seem from their letters that they expected their children to do the same. Ludwig duly underwent the rite of bar mitzvah at age 13, but was from an early age convinced that all religion was hogwash. He firmly believed in human progress through reason, science and technology, and indeed his chosen career constantly confirmed him in this faith. Not until the very last days of his life, in 1909, did he desire to talk seriously with a rabbi. He ordered a full Jewish funeral service for himself. In educating their sons, Frida took special care to keep them away from the Hebrew Bible, which she considered barbarous and unfit for children. Frida’s policy proved to have been less than effective when Alfred, who indeed began his conscious life as an atheist, married a Christian woman, Violet Goetze, and eventually got deeply involved with Judaism and Zionism; his son Henry went a step further in 1933 by converting from nominal Christianity to Judaism, in reaction to current events in Germany.

            Cohen’s excellent biography also reveals the identity of ‘Mrs Angela Mond’ and ‘Miss Constance Schweich’. A sister of Ludwig’s, Philippina or ‘Phinchen’, who died young, had been married to a certain Leopold Schweich. The couple had a daughter, Constance, and a son, Emil. Both children developed very close ties to their Uncle Ludwig and Aunt Frida and also to their famously rich cousin Alfred: Constance married Alfred’s brother-in-law and Emil his sister-in-law: in other words, these cousins of Alfred married a brother and a sister of his wife. Constance, Cohen tells us, ‘lived almost as a daughter’ with her rich London uncle and aunt. She was the ‘Miss Constance Schweich’ who founded the first series of lectures at the British Academy in 1908 in memory of her father Leopold. Judging from her name as stated with the endowment, she was not yet married at that date, and likely enough the sum donated was really, or largely, provided by Ludwig and Frida Mond. Constance’s brother Emil went into Uncle Ludwig’s business and got so deeply involved in it that he saw fit to change his surname from Schweich to Mond. It was thus that his wife, who began life as Angela Goetze and then became Angela Schweich, after yet another change of name found herself described as Mrs Angela Mond. She initiated the Italian Lectures in 1917. Marriages between relatives were common in the circle of Ludwig and Frida Mond’s families: they themselves were first cousins.

            Another detail not available online concerned the man whose name got me hooked into this whole subject, Israel Gollancz. Did his late marriage to young Alide Goldschmidt result in any offspring? One of Alide’s paintings was shown at an Internet auction with a note written by a David Gollancz, who described her as ‘my Grandmother’ and also mentioned her son Oliver Gollancz as ‘my father’. A David Gollancz was soon found on the website of a London firm of lawyers along with a portrait and his email address. I wrote to him and Mr Gollancz kindly obliged within a few hours, telling me that Israel and Alide had had two children: Marguerite (one of whose other names was Henrietta), who acquired some distinction as an archivist, and Oliver (1914-2004), who worked as a bookseller and later as an art historian and painter.