Elise Otté

Elise Otté (30 September 1818 – 20 December 1903) was an Anglo-Danish linguist, scholar and historian.[1] She completed a number of translations into English from different languages. She assisted her step-father in translating the Norse poems known as the Elder Edda.

Early life

Otté was born in Copenhagen on 30 September 1818, to a Danish father and an English mother called Mary Anne.[2] In 1820, she moved with her parents to the island of Saint Croix (then Sankt Croix of the Danish West Indies). When her father died, she and her mother returned to Denmark.[1]


In Copenhagen, her mother met and married another British man, English philologist Benjamin Thorpe,[3] and together, the family moved to England. Thorpe taught his step-daughter several modern languages as well as Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon to the point that she was able to assist his grammatical work, but they clashed on a personal level and she found him oppressive.[4] In 1840, she moved to Boston, United States for some independence and to study physiology at Harvard University.[1] She also spent time on a tour of Europe.[4]

Academic career

She later returned to her step-father's and she assisted his translation of the Elder Edda. She found life with him intolerable, however, and in 1849, she moved to Scotland and worked at the University of St Andrews translating for George Edward Day.[1] Otte was again assisting an academic who was older than her.[4] When Day retired in 1863, she moved with Day and his wife to Torquay until his death in 1872. She continued her career from London, writing in scientific periodicals, but also publishing a monograph, Scandinavian history, in 1874.[1] This work of academic study had lasting impact and it was reprinted up to 1939 under the title of "Norway, Sweden and Denmark" which matched the title of her 1881 work "Denmark and Iceland". Her breadth and depth of knowledge enabled her to publish a range of works. She translated a number of books from German by Alexander von Humboldt and another by the historian Johann Martin Lappenberg. Her range of skills enabled her to also translate the scientific Rambles of a Naturalist on the Coast of Spain, France and Sicily by the biologist Jean Louis Armand de Quatrefages de Bréau which was written in French.[5]

In 1884 she published grammars of both Danish and Swedish as well as textbooks aimed at students of German in 1859 and of Danish in 1879.[5]

She died at Richmond on 20 December 1903, in her eighty-sixth year.[1]

Notable works



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1885). "Otté, Elise (DNB12)". Dictionary of National Biography. 3. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 6364.
  2. Elizabeth Baigent, 'Otté, Elise Charlotte (1818–1903)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 13 Feb 2015
  3. Medieval Scholarship Literature and Philology. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. 2014. p. 76. ISBN 1317732022.
  4. 1 2 3 Mitchell, Rosemary Ann (20 Dec 2006). "'The busy daughters of Clio': women writers of history from 1820 to 1880". Women's History Review. 7: 107134. doi:10.1080/09612029800200164.
  5. 1 2 Elizabeth Baigent, 'Otté, Elise Charlotte (1818–1903)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 17 Feb 2015
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 6/14/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.