Family Group Sheet
Family Group Sheet
NameEdward William GARNETT
FatherRichard GARNETT CB (1835-1906)
SpouseConstance Clara BLACK
Notes for Edward William GARNETT
Publisher's editor and writer

Edward Garnett (1868–1937) was an English writer, critic and a significant and personally generous literary editor, who was instrumental in getting D. H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers published. His father Richard Garnett (1835-1906) was a writer and librarian at the British Museum. His wife was Constance Garnett, known for her translations of Russian literature; the writer David Garnett was their son.

Garnett had only a few years formal education at the City of London School, leaving at the age of 16, but he educated himself further by reading widely. He gained a high reputation at the time for a mixture of good sense and sensitivity in relation to contemporary literature. His influence through his encouragement of leading authors exceeded by far that of his own writing. His literary contacts and correspondents spread far and wide, from Petr Kropotkin to Edward Thomas[disambiguation needed].
He worked as an editor and reader for the London publishing houses of T. Fisher Unwin, Gerald Duckworth and Company, and then Jonathan Cape. He brought together in 1898 Joseph Conrad, an Unwin author to whom he acted as a mentor as well as a friend, and Ford Madox Ford; they collaborated in the first few years of the twentieth century. Garnett befriended D. H. Lawrence, and for a time influenced him in the direction of realist fiction. He also had a role in getting T. E. Lawrence's work published. One of his failures was to turn down for Duckworth James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, in 1915. He was a strong supporter of John Galsworthy, and The Man of Property in the Forsyte Saga was dedicated to him. He also championed American writers Stephen Crane and Robert Frost and Australia's Henry Lawson, and helped the Irish writer Liam O'Flaherty.

His play The Breaking Point was not allowed a licence for dramatic performance in London under the censorship system of the time (Lord Chamberlain's office). Its publication was permitted, and in 1907 Garnett published the play, which dealt with an unmarried mother, together with an open letter to the censor. The letter was in fact written by the critic William Archer. This was one battle in a campaign being waged at the time, under the generalship of Bernard Shaw, to free the stage.
Notes for Constance Clara BLACK
Constance Clara Garnett (née Black) (19 December 1861, Brighton, England – 17 December 1946, The Cearne, Crockham Hill, Kent) was an English translator of nineteenth-century Russian literature. Garnett was one of the first English translators of Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Anton Chekhov and introduced them on a wide basis to the English-speaking public.
Contents [hide]
1 Life
2 Translations
3 See also
4 References
5 Sources
6 External links

Garnett was the sixth of the eight children of the solicitor David Black (1817–1892), afterwards town clerk and coroner, and his wife, Clara Maria Patten (1825–1875). Her brother was the mathematician Arthur Black.[1] Her father became paralysed in 1873, and two years later her mother died, from a heart attack after lifting him from his chair to his bed.[2]
She was initially educated at Brighton and Hove High School. Afterwards she studied Latin and Greek at Newnham College, Cambridge on a government scholarship, where she also learned Russian (partly from émigré Russian friends such as Felix Volkonsky), and worked briefly as a school teacher.
Her husband, Edward Garnett, whom she married in Brighton on 31 August 1889, was a distinguished reader for the publisher Jonathan Cape. Her son and only child, David Garnett, trained as a biologist and later wrote novels.
In 1893, shortly after a visit to Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Yasnaya Polyana where she met Leo Tolstoy, she was inspired to start translating Russian literature, which became her life's passion and resulted in English-language versions of dozens of volumes by Tolstoy, Gogol, Ivan Goncharov, Dostoevsky, Pushkin, Turgenev, Ostrovsky and Chekhov. The Russian anarchist Sergei Stepniak partly assisted her, also in revising some of her early works.
By the late 1920s, Garnett was frail, white-haired, and half-blind. She retired from translating after the publication in 1934 of Three Plays by Turgenev. After her husband's death in 1937, she became quite reclusive. She developed a heart condition, with attendant breathlessness, and in her last years had to walk with crutches.


Constance Garnett translated 71 volumes of Russian literary works, and her translations received high acclaim, from authors such as Joseph Conrad and D. H. Lawrence. Despite some complaints about being outdated, her translations are still being reprinted today (most also happen to be in the public domain).

However, Garnett also has had many critics, notably prominent Russian natives and authors Vladimir Nabokov and Joseph Brodsky. Brodsky notably criticized Garnett for blurring the distinctive authorial voices of different Russian authors:[2]

"The reason English-speaking readers can barely tell the difference between Tolstoy and Dostoevsky is that they aren't reading the prose of either one. They're reading Constance Garnett."

In her translations, she worked quickly, and smoothed over certain small portions for "readability", particularly in her translations of Dostoevsky.[3] In instances where she did not understand a word or phrase, she omitted that portion.[2][4]

For his Norton Critical Edition of The Brothers Karamazov, Ralph Matlaw based his revised version on her translation.[5] This is the basis for the influential A Karamazov Companion by Victor Terras.[6] Matlaw published an earlier revision of Garnett's translation of the Grand Inquisitor chapter in a volume paired with Notes From Underground.[7]

In 1994 Donald Rayfield compared Garnett's translations with the most recent scholarly versions of Chekhov's stories and concluded:

"While she makes elementary blunders, her care in unravelling difficult syntactical knots and her research on the right terms for Chekhov's many plants, birds and fish are impressive.... Her English is not only nearly contemporaneous to Chekhov's, it is often comparable."[8]

Her translations of Turgenev were highly regarded by Rachel May, in her study on translating Russian classics.

Later translators such as Rosemary Edmonds and David Magarshack continued to use Garnett's translations as models for their own work.[4][9]
Last Modified 1 Sep 2012Created 28 Jan 2018 using Reunion for Macintosh