Married to the job: Lisa Ross as editor

This archival document shows that Colin Ross’s wife was the first editor of his writing. She offered harsh criticism and influenced his style.

This is an excerpt from the minutes that publisher Brockhaus kept of their management’s meetings with Mr. and Mrs. Ross between 1927 and 1943. Among other things, they reveal the full weight of Lisa Ross’s editorial work. In this excerpt Colin Ross states that on her insistence he overhauled two finished manuscripts about their trip to New Zealand and the Territories of Papua and New Guinea before finally submitting Haha Whenua - das Land das ich gesucht (1933) to Brockhaus. Lisa Ross had earlier voiced criticism about the quality of the writing for that book.1 Another reason for her unease is given here: “Relations in the South Sea are difficult, because you would have to talk a lot about personalities and every insider would know the corresponding names. But now he has found a new form that mixes facts and fiction.” [p. 7]

Indeed, Haha Whenua - das Land das ich gesucht with its array of conveniently recurring minor characters is the most novelistic of Ross’s travel books, as he acknowledges in the foreword. This departure from his travelogue formula may also have been a way to circumvent the lack of articles written on this leg of the journey, as Ross had fallen ill with an infected knee during his stay in Rabaul in the Territory of New Guinea.

Joachim Schätz








Sächsisches Staatsarchiv, Staatsarchiv Leipzig, Bestand 21083 F. A. Brockhaus, Leipzig, Nr. 790. Brockhaus minutes. Z/L. Colin Ross bei FB, HB, Pf. 30.8.32.; 6–7.
Topic: The Ross Family
Case: Oceania-Asia trip 1928-30




Footnotes

1 See: Sächsisches Staatsarchiv, Staatsarchiv Leipzig, Bestand 21083 F. A. Brockhaus, Leipzig, Nr. 790. Brockhaus minutes. Besuch Dr. Colin Ross und Frau in Leipzig 10./11.2.31; 2.

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