1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Elizabeth of Rumania

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ELIZABETH [PAULINE ELIZABETH OTTILIE LOUISE] (1843–), consort of King Charles I. (q.v.) of Rumania, widely known by her literary name of “Carmen Sylva,” was born on the 29th of December 1843. She was the daughter of Prince Hermann of Neuwied. She first met the future king of Rumania at Berlin in 1861, and was married to him on the 15th of November 1869. Her only child, a daughter, died in 1874. In the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 she devoted herself to the care of the wounded, and founded the Order of Elizabeth (a gold cross on a blue ribbon) to reward distinguished service in such work. She fostered the higher education of women in Rumania, and established societies for various charitable objects. Early distinguished by her excellence as a pianist, organist and singer, she also showed considerable ability in painting and illuminating; but a lively poetic imagination led her to the path of literature, and more especially to poetry, folk-lore and ballads. In addition to numerous original works she put into literary form many of the legends current among the Rumanian peasantry.

“Carmen Sylva” wrote with facility in German, Rumanian, French and English. A few of her voluminous writings, which include poems, plays, novels, short stories, essays, collections of aphorisms, &c., may be singled out for special mention. Her earliest publications were Sappho and Hammerstein, two poems which appeared at Leipzig in 1880. In 1888 she received the Prix Botta, a prize awarded triennially by the French Academy, for her volume of prose aphorisms Les Pensées d’une reine (Paris, 1882), a German version of which is entitled Vom Amboss (Bonn, 1890). Cuvinte Sufletesci, religious meditations in Rumanian (Bucharest, 1888), was also translated into German (Bonn, 1890), under the name of Seelen-Gespräche. Several of the works of “Carmen Sylva” were written in collaboration with Mite Kremnitz, one of her maids of honour, who was born at Greifswald in 1857, and married Dr Kremnitz of Bucharest; these were published between 1881 and 1888, in some cases under the pseudonyms Dito et Idem, and includes the novel Aus zwei Welten (Leipzig, 1884), Anna Boleyn (Bonn, 1886), a tragedy, In der Irre (Bonn, 1888), a collection of short stories, &c. Edleen Vaughan, or Paths of Peril, a novel (London, 1894), and Sweet Hours, poems (London, 1904), were written in English. Among the translations made by “Carmen Sylva” are German versions of Pierre Loti’s romance Pêcheur d’Islande, and of Paul de St Victor’s dramatic criticisms Les Deux Masques (Paris, 1881–1884); and in particular The Bard of the Dimbovitza, a fine English version by “Carmen Sylva” and Alma Strettell of Helène Vacarescu’s collection of Rumanian folk-songs, &c., entitled Lieder aus dem Dimbovitzathal (Bonn, 1889). The Bard of the Dimbovitza was first published in 1891, and was soon reissued and expanded. Translations from the original works of “Carmen Sylva” have appeared in all the principal languages of Europe and in Armenian.

See Rumania: History; also M. Kremnitz, Carmen Sylva—eine Biographie (Leipzig, 1903); and, for a full bibliography, G. Bengescu, Carmen Sylva—bibliographie et extraits de ses œuvres (Paris, 1904).