Eithne Wilkins

Eithne Wilkins (born Ethne Una Lilian Wilkins; 12 September 1914 – 13 March 1975) was a Germanic Studies scholar, translator and poet from New Zealand.[1]

Life and work

She was born in Wellington to Edgar Wilkins, an Irish doctor, and his wife Eveline (Whittaker); her younger brother was the Nobel laureate Maurice Wilkins. In 1923, when she was almost nine, she moved to Dublin with her family and shortly after they moved again to London, followed again by a move to Birmingham, where her father started work as a school doctor.[2]

She studied languages and literature at Somerville College, Oxford and later worked as a journalist and translator in London and Paris before World War II.[3] During the war, she taught at the Emanuel School, which evacuated to Petersfield in 1939.

From the mid-1930s to the late 1950s, Wilkins wrote poetry, publishing about 40 poems in various literary journals.[1] Several of her poems were included in Kenneth Rexroth's anthology The New British Poets, published by New Directions in 1949.[4]

In 1941 in Petersfield, she married the Austrian writer and translator Ernst Kaiser. They collaborated together on translations and the study of the works of Robert Musil, including the first English translation of The Man Without Qualities.[5]

In 1953 she had a research fellowship at Bedford College in London, then went to Rome with Kaiser on a grant from the Bollingen Foundation to study Musil's estate.[6] In 1967 or 1968, she was appointed as a professor at the University of Reading and established the Musil Research Unit with her husband.[7]

Eithne Wilkins died in 1975.


  • with Ernst Kaiser: Robert Musil. Eine Einführung in das Werk (1962)
  • The Rose-Garden Game: The Symbolic Background to the European Prayerbeads (Gollancz, 1969)


Translations with Ernst Kaiser


  1. ^ a b Armstrong, Tim (2022). "The Nuclear Family from Wellington to Hiroshima: Eithne Wilkins's 'Oranges and Lemons'". Modernist Cultures. 17 (1): 127–146. doi:10.3366/mod.2022.0362. ISSN 2041-1022. S2CID 246859783.
  2. ^ Wilkins, Maurice (2005-07-14). Maurice Wilkins: The Third Man of the Double Helix: An Autobiography. OUP Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-157814-4.
  3. ^ "Papers of M H F Wilkins: personal Wilkins' family letters". Wellcome Collection. Retrieved 2022-08-16.
  4. ^ Rexroth, Kenneth (1949). The New British Poets. Osmania University, Digital Library Of India. A New Directions Book.
  5. ^ Rogowski, Christian (1994). Distinguished Outsider: Robert Musil and His Critics. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-1-879751-52-1.
  6. ^ Wilkins, Eithne (1967). "The Musil Manuscripts and a Project for a Musil Society". The Modern Language Review. 62 (3): 451–458. doi:10.2307/3722135. ISSN 0026-7937. JSTOR 3722135.
  7. ^ "Papers of the Musil Research Unit - Archives Hub". archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk. Retrieved 2022-08-16.
  8. ^ Kaiser, Ingeborg Bachmann, translated by Eithne Wilkins & Ernst (1962). "Everything". Vol. Summer-Fall 1962, no. 28. ISSN 0031-2037. Retrieved 2022-08-16.