Walter Starkie

Walter Starkie

Walter Fitzwilliam Starkie (1894-1976) was an Irish scholar, author, and translator of Spanish literature. He was the first Professor of Spanish at Trinity College, Dublin, from 1926.

He won fame for his travels and was once profiled by "Time Magazine" as being a modern-day gypsy. He published accounts of his experiences as a university vacation vagabond in "Raggle Taggle," subtitled "Adventures with a fiddle in Hungary and Roumania" and sequels, "Spanish Raggle Taggle" and "Don Gypsy." They are picaresque accounts in the tradition of George Borrow. Probably only the author ever knew the balance between fact and fiction in their contents. He was the President of the Gypsy Lore Society until his death in 1976.

Starkie was the director of Ireland's famous Abbey Theatre for seventeen years. He was also the founder and first director of the [British Institute] in Madrid (1940-1954), and opened branches in Barcelona, Bilbao, Seville and Valencia. But he is most famous to modern readers as a translator of Spanish literature. In addition to publishing a 1964 translation of plays from the Spanish Golden Age in the Modern Library volume "Eight Spanish Plays of the Golden Age", he published his own abridged translation of Cervantes's " Don Quixote" in 1957 in hardcover for Macmillan Publishers, and seven years later, published an unabridged version in paperback for New American Library. Written in contemporary English, both have been in print since their publications, and are considered highly accurate, but Starkie does occasionally put Irish slang and phrase construction (e.g. the phrase "I'm thinking", instead of "I think", and the oath "Bad 'cess to you!") into the mouths of its peasant characters. This is a trait he repeats in a translation of a brief one-acter by Lope de Rueda published in "Eight Spanish Plays of the Golden Age". His autobiography "Scholars and Gypsies" was published in 1963.

The academic Enid Starkie was his sister.


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