Polish poetry in Tottenham

Posted on 14th April 2021 by simonbeattie

The translator and publisher of this little book, Aleksander Radwan Rypiński (c.1821–1886), had arrived in London in 1846.  ‘Born around 1812 in what is now Belarus, Rypiński became a devoted collector of Polish, Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian folk-songs.  As well as writing his own poetry, in 1827 he translated Pushkin’s Rusalka into Polish, one of the earliest translations of Pushkin into any language.  He took part in the 1831 Insurrection in Lithuania and, after its collapse, made his way to France.  He settled in Paris, where he took an active part in émigré cultural and political life, moving in circles close to the Polish national bard Adam Mickiewicz …  Once in London, unlike most of his fellow Polish printers and publishers, who congregated in central areas around Bloomsbury …, Rypiński settled in Tottenham, … [then] still a green and leafy village … [where] there was a small community of Polish teachers’ (Janet Zmroczek, ‘Poetry and polemics: the Polish book trade in London, 1836–67’, Foreign-Language Printing in London 1500–1900, British Library, 2002, pp. 247–8). 

Rypiński set up his own press in Tottenham, the Drukarnia Polska (‘Polish Press’), producing at least 25 titles: contemporary history, poetry, memoirs, and political tracts.  He also ran a bookshop from 5 Grove Place, selling émigré books and journals.  ‘In a letter to a friend he describes the hardship of his life in London, working as “an author, compositor, corrector, editor, printer, binder and even bookseller – all this in addition to my duties as a teacher.  It was all too much for me alone and thank God that it didn’t do for me altogether, though it certainly exhausted all my funds”’ (op. cit., p. 250).

For more details on the book, see the following list.

Posted in

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *