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From now on, he’s “novelist and brother of the celebrated translator” to me

September 13, 2013

Languagehat asks if anyone knows the origin of the last name Soskice. I don’t, but I hope someone does, because I’ve been curious about Nekrasov’s translator Juliet M. Soskice for some time. LH’s post led me to search and find out one interesting thing about her: she was the wife of a Russian revolutionary (not surprising for someone who decided to translate Nekrasov in 1917) and also, according to Rebecca West (1892-1983), Ford Madox Ford’s sister.

Russian Wikipedia has JMS’s husband, David Soskice (Соскис) as a revolutionary journalist from a Jewish merchant family, though I don’t know if this helps any with the name’s origin. [Update: LH and his commenters come through again: “the invaluable Unbegaun tells me that, like Sosin, Soskin, Sosis, Shoshin, Shoshkin, and Shoshkes, it’s derived from the Hebrew name Shoshana (Susannah).”]

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 13, 2013 12:52 pm

    It was the vital clue that enabled me to discover it’s a Russian-Jewish surname derived from Shoshana (Susannah).

  2. September 15, 2013 11:27 am

    Erik, following up on this (and on the Hat’s coincidental reading of JANET Soskice’s book): Janet Soskice is a Fellow at Jesus College Cambridge, where I was a postgraduate student. I once sat next to her at a college dinner, and she mentioned that an ancestor had left Russia for England around the time of the Revolution. She added, if memory serves, that she had a great many untranslated Russian documents in her attic, which she’d like to investigate. Was Juliet, or David, perhaps this ancestor?

    • September 15, 2013 1:29 pm

      Small world! It seems quite possible that David Soskice (1866-1941) is the ancestor who left Russia for England – per Wikipedia he was an SR who left Russia for Switzerland in 1893, went to England in 1898, returned to Russia after 1905, was Kerensky’s personal secretary, and escaped back to England in 1917, becoming a British subject in 1924. Juliet M. Soskice (is the M. for Madox like her two brothers’ names?) was English, I think. (Poking around more I see that Ford Madox Ford’s first book, The Brown Owl [1891], was a fairy tale he wrote while a teenager for his little sister Juliet.)

      Wikipedia also says Juliet and David’s son Frank Soskice (1902-1976) was a Labour MP and Home Secretary under Harold Wilson.

      There was also a Peter D. Soskice who published articles on Nekrasov between 1968 and 1972 in the New Zealand Slavonic Journal. I assume he’s in the same family.

  3. September 16, 2013 3:27 am

    I shall send the link for this page to our intrepid college librarian at Jesus – perhaps she can throw light on the Soskice dynasty! There’s obviously a fascinating tale to be told, very possibly in that attic archive…

  4. September 25, 2013 6:19 am

    I’d like to add a final word on this, if I may. The indefatigable Jesus College librarian did indeed contact Janice Soskice, who writes: ‘My husband is the grandson of Juliet Soskice who was indeed the translator and sister of Ford Madox Ford. Her Russian husband [David – RD] has a pretty extensive entry in the latest DNB, and Juliet herself wrote a wonderful memoir called Chapters from Childhood, which recounts growing up in English left wing artist circles, etc.’ Intriguingly, there is indeed an archive of early twentieth-century letters. To be continued!

    • September 25, 2013 9:31 am

      Thank you for this! I just ordered a copy of Chapters from Childhood. Let me know if anything is discovered in that archive!

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