A Post-marriage Love Letter from Einstein to His Wife

At the time of this letter, Mileva Maric-Einstein (nicknamed Dollie to his Johnnie) is newly pregnant with her second child and in Budapest, likely to deal with something about Lieserl, the illegitimate daughter born to the two.  Considering the marriage would have legitimized this child, it’s not clear why the child wasn’t taken into their household.  Perhaps Einstein was afraid it would disrupt his newly-acquired position in the conservative moral climate of the Swiss Patent Office in Bern.  Or was it something to do with the after-effects of scarlet fever?  This letter is the last-known mention of Lieserl.  I find the last three sentences particularly ominous.  Scholars only guess at what they mean.  The source I read today, Andrea Gabor’s book Einstein’s Wife, (p. 19) suggests that the two may have decided to put her up for adoption.  Einstein’s inability to come alongside her, his admonition not to worry about it, to come back content and have another Lieserl, seems callous.  Here’s the letter:

“I’m not the least bit angry that poor Dollie is hatching a new chick.  In fact, I’m happy about it and had already given some thought to whether I shouldn’t see to it that you get a new Lieserl.  After all, you shouldn’t be denied that which is the right of all women.  Don’t worry about it, and come back content.  I’m very sorry about what has befallen Lieserl.  It’s so easy to suffer lasting effects from scarlet fever.  If only this will pass.  As what is the child registered?  We must take precautions that problems don’t arise for her later.”  (Quoted from Renn and Schulmann, eds. Albert Einstein, Mileva Maric:  The Love Letters, p. 78.)

About Nancy Pinard

Professionally-speaking, Nancy Pinard is an author-educator who spends her days writing, teaching, reading, and researching for her writing and teaching. She is the author of two published novels, Shadow Dancing and Butterfly Soup, and numerous short stories. She has taught the craft of fiction writing in many venues including Sinclair Community College, University of Dayton Life-Long Learning Institute, Antioch Writers' Workshop, Mad Anthony Writers' Workshop, and Molasses Pond Writers' Workshop. Personally, her faith is what sustains, inspires, and motivates her to continue to explore meaning through literature. "You are right in demanding that an artist approach his work consciously, but you are confusing two concepts: the solution of a problem and the correct formulation of a problem. Only the second is required of the artist." — Anton Chekov to Alexei Suvorin, October 27, 1888
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