Else Lübcke Seel (1894-1974)
Else Lübcke Seel was born in 1894 in Schivelbein, Pomerania. After the end of World War I, she moved with her mother and aunt to Berlin, where she worked in the archives of a bank. She began writing and became well-known in Berlin's literary circles. In 1927, after an unhappy love affair with the Danish writer Martin Andersen-Nexö, she decided to emigrate to Canada. Upon her arrival in Vancouver she met George Seel, a prospector and trapper who lived in central British Columbia. They were married soon after her arrival and settled in George's one-room cabin near Ootsa Lake, some 600 miles north of Vancouver. They lived there for 25 years; Else was frequently left on her own for several months at a time to raise their two children while George was away trapping and prospecting for gold. She kept a diary and wrote short stories and poems about her experiences among the settlers around Ootsa Lake.
The Seels were beset by hardships during their years at Ootsa Lake; George's income was frequently very small, especially during the Depression of the 1930's, and as German immigrants, they were often harassed by their neighbours during World War II. In 1948-1949 the properties around the lake were faced with flooding due to the proposed Alcan dam, so the Seels began planning to move elsewhere. In 1949, however, George Seel died suddenly of pneumonia; Else and the children moved to Victoria and later settled in Vancouver. She continued to write stories and novels; her book, Kanadisches Tagebuch was published in Germany in 1964. It was translated into English by University of Victoria Professor Rodney Symington as Canadian Diary in 1974 (however, the translation remains unpublished).
In December 1946, Seel read a newspaper report of Ezra Pound's confinement in St. Elizabeth's Hospital; troubled by the paper's account of Pound's incarceration, she sent him a few words of encouragement, thus beginning a ten-year exchange of letters with Pound and his wife Dorothy. Seel kept the letters she received from the Pounds (over 100 in all) and also kept copies of letters she sent to them.
Else Seel died in Vancouver in February 1974.
Else Lübcke Seel Fonds
The Else Lübcke Seel fonds, or archive, is comprised of correspondence, writings, personal papers, artwork, and printed material reflecting the personal and professional life of German-Canadian author Else Lübcke Seel. The fonds documents Seel’s early life in Germany and development as a writer during the interwar period in Berlin. Seel’s notebooks, photograph albums, and other personal papers provide insight into her move from Germany to Canada, where she settled in Ootsa Lake, British Columbia, in 1927. Seel’s literary correspondence includes letters with Ezra Pound and Dorothy Pound, with whom she developed an epistolary relationship following WWII.
Else Lübcke Seel Fonds Finding Aid [PDF]
Seel, Else. Kanadisches Tagebuch. Herrenalb : H. Erdmann, 1964. UVic Libraries Special Collections. Call Number: PT3919 S47Z5 1964.
Around the Ring, Vol. 3, No. 59, December 20, 1974, p. 2.
Rodney Symington, "Five Years I Wrote to You...': An Unknown Correspondent of Ezra Pound", Paideuma, Vol. 18, Nos. 1 & 2, Spring and Fall 1989, 161-183.