WOLLHEIM DA FONSECA, Anton Eduard. Hamburg 12.2.1810 — Berlin 24.10.1884. German Indologist. Born in a Catholic family (?) of Jewish origin as A. E. Wollheim (Wikipedia says he himself adopted catholicism only later), son of merchant Hirsch Jakob W. and Antonie von Secka (Wikipedia) or Henriette Goldschmidt (Mendheim). Moved early to Breslau and went there to school, matriculated from Hamburg. Studied in 1828-31 at Berlin philosophy, Oriental philology (Bopp), history, and political science. Ph.D. 1831 Berlin. Further studies in Paris, where he also worked as journalist. He fell in love with the daughter of a Portuguese refugee officer and joined the army of Dom Pedro. He was wounded several times and after the death of his fiancée he quitted the army and went to England and Hamburg. For his services he later got Portuguese title of nobility from Maria II (hence da Fonseca). His father had just died and with the inheritance he went to Copenhagen. He arranged the Pāli manuscripts there and was for a while secretary to King Frederick VI. The possibility of a good position in Russia brought him back to Germany, but it came to nothing. Now he worked as journalist, translator and author in Berlin, Vienna (1838-40) and Hamburg. He was dramaturgist of Hamburg Stadttheater until 1848, when he again moved to Vienna. Married 1842 in Hamburg Dorothea Alexandrie Marie Goldschmidt (née Leffmann), widower 1873.
In 1849 Wollheim da Fonseca became PD of Oriental and Modern Languages at Berlin, but taught only until 1852. The attempt to start a magazine (or newspaper?) in Paris was frustrated and in 1854-58 he lived in Vienna doing literary and diplomatic work for the Government, travelling in France, Germany and Italy. He wrote poetry and political articles. In 1858 he came back to Hamburg as journalist in a Pan-Germanic weekly magazine and Director of Stadttheater. In 1862 again in Austrian government service and in 1864-67 in Paris as a journalist. Back in Hamburg he founded a summer theatre, then in December 1868 in Berlin a weekly magazine opposed to Pan-Germanism and supported by the government. During the war editor of a propaganda newspaper. In 1871-72 adviser in Prussian embassy in Paris, quitted without explanation. He had lost his property and tried to get living as author and journalist in Berlin, Hamburg, Vienna and St.Petersburg. In 1878 (W.) or 1881 (M.) he applied without success for a permission to give lectures at Berlin University.
During his chequered life Wollheim da Fonseca had learned about 30 languages and written about widely differring subjects, often anonymously. As an author he was an insignificant late romantic, but as a dramaturgist his work was much appreciated (he was the first to put Goethe’s Faust II on stage). According to Windisch his Indological works were not too bad in their time, but soon became antiquated. His Mythology was a competent account on the basis of the Purāṇas, but ignored the Vedas.
Publications: Diss. De nonnullis Padma-Purani capitibus. 39 p. B. 1831.
– Altindische Mythologie. 6+198 p. B. 1857.
– Kurzgefasste Mythologie aller Völker der Erde. 10+324 p. Hamburg 1849; Orientalisches Liederbuch: Perlen aus dem Morgenlande in metrischen Uebersetzungen. 8+151 p. Hamburg 1853; Die National-Literatur sämmtlicher Völker des Orients. 1-2. B. 1873.
– National-Litteratur der Skandinavier. 1-3. 1876-77; grammars and dictionaries; poetry, political and other articles; own plays, e.g. Andrea. 1838/39; Raphael Sanzio. 1848/49; Rosen im Norden. 1849.
– Editor of Lesefrüchte. 1837ff.; Controle. Hamburg 1858-62, Berlin 1870ff.
– German translation of Os Lusíadas. 300 p. Reclam Bibl. Lp. (c. 1880).
– Indiscretionen: aus den Erinnerungen eines patriotischen Reptils. 6+451 p. B. 1883; Neue Indiscretionen, Erinnerungen aus der geheimen Diplomatie der letzten dreissig Jahre. 1-2. B. 1884.
Sources: M. Mendheim, A.D.B. 44, 1898, 146-148; Windisch 220; German Wikipedia with portrait.
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