Girish Mahajan

Michael Meyer (translator)

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Education  Christ Church, Oxford
Died  3 August 2000, Praed Street, London, United Kingdom
Books  Three Plays about Ibs, Ibsen: A Biography, The odd women, Lunatic and lover, Strindberg: A Biography

Michael Leverson Meyer (11 June 1921 – 3 August 2000) was an English translator, biographer, journalist and dramatist.



Meyer was born in London into a timber merchant family of Jewish origin, and studied English at Christ Church, Oxford. His first translation of a Swedish book was the novel The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson, published by Collins in 1954. He is best known for his translations of the works of two Scandinavian playwrights, Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg. Braham Murray wrote of Meyer in his obituary published by The Guardian that Meyer was "the greatest translator of Ibsen and Strindberg into English there has ever been" even superior to William Archer, but Inga-Stina Ewbank and especially Jan Myrdal has criticized the mistranslations, where Myrdal tries to prove that they are made deliberately. Myrdal also strongly criticized Meyer's biography of Strindberg.

Meyer's journalism appeared in the New York Review of Books. He also wrote acclaimed biographies of both these playwrights; the three volume work on Ibsen (1967–71) won the 1971 Whitbread Award for Biography and the work on Strindberg appeared in 1985. His autobiography Not Prince Hamlet was published in 1989.


For his translations of Strindberg the Swedish Academy awarded him their Gold Medal, the first time it had been given to an Englishman.

List of original works

  • The End Of The Corridor, 1951
  • A novel based on his unhappy days at Wellington College.
  • The Ortolan, 1951
  • His first play, produced by Wrede in 1953, with Maggie Smith in the lead, and again in 1965 by Braham Murray, with Helen Mirren.
  • Lunatic And Lover, 1982
  • A play about Strindberg's love life.
  • Summer In Gossensass
  • About Ibsen's late love.
  • Meeting In Rome
  • Starred Kenneth Haigh, an account of a fictional meeting between the Strindberg and Ibsen.
  • References

    Michael Meyer (translator) Wikipedia

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