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Thomasina Ross

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Published : 8 Articles
Pen Names : None
Date of Birth : N/A
Death : N/A
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Translator; daughter of William Ross, reporter and translator for the Times. On staff of Literary Gazette when Jerdan became editor of that periodical in 1817; was, according to him, a "ready and excellent translator", a writer "whose talents were of a sound order, especially for a youthful female" (Autobiography, II, 178, 236-237). Contributed to Polytechnic Journal and Bentley's Miscellany. Published, 1823, translation of Bouterwek's History of Spanish Literature; 1847, Tschudi's Travels in Peru; 1849, El Buscapié; 1852, Humboldt's Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions. Commended by Ticknor, History of Spanish Literature (1849, I, 33n), for "taste and skill" of her translation of Bouterwek; by Quarterly Review (September 1847) for "ease and fluency" of her translation of Tschudi. In 1856 granted Civil List pension of £50 a year "In consideration of her literary merits" (Colles, Literature and the Pension List).


Dickens was acquainted with the Ross family, his uncle Edward Barrow being the husband of Miss Ross's sister Janet. Dickens took an interest in Miss Ross's literary career and admired her work as translator. He brought her to the attention of Chapman & Hall and, October 20 1842, gave her a letter of introduction to the publishers. In a letter of April 1 1847, thanking her for a copy of her translation of Tschudi, he gave her work high praise: "It is as if the book were not a translation, but had been written originally in English, and in thorough good English too" (Rolfe, "Additions to the Nonesuch Edition of Dickens' Letters", Huntington Library Quarterly, October 1941).

A letter from Dickens to Miss Ross, January 21 1850, indicates that she had written to him suggesting that she contribute to his forthcoming periodical. "I think I may often avail myself of your offer, to our mutual advantage", wrote Dickens, asking her to suggest a Spanish or German book or subject of which she might write "a popular account". Some days later he wrote that he had asked Wills to communicate with her for the purpose of arranging a subject (January 29: MS Stark Library, University of Texas).

All of Miss Ross's H.W. contributions were translations. For all except the last, she was paid less than the standard rate. For the 10-coIumn article "The 'Mouth' of China", for instance, she received £4.0.0, as against the standard payment of £5.5.0 for an article of that length.

Miss Ross's "A Lunatic Asylum in Palermo" was reprinted in Harper's, with acknowledgment to H.W. Three of her contributions were included in the Putnam volumes of selections from H.W.: "Winged Telegraphs" in Home and Social Philosophy, 2nd series; "Tahiti" and "The 'Mouth' of China" in The World Here and There.

Author: Anne Lohrli; © University of Toronto Press, 1971.

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