The Robert Walser Archive collects all materials about the lives and works of Robert Walser and Carl Seelig.

Scope and Focus

The main focus of the Archive is The Robert Walser Collection, which represents the world’s most extensive collection of printed and unprinted documents about Robert Walser’s life and work. Robert Walser’s unpublished works formed the starting point of the collection, which has been continually updated and supplemented with manuscripts; letters; personal papers; first and subsequent editions; translations; adaptations for theater, radio and film; etc., as well as a comprehensive collection of secondary literature (monographs, essays, newspaper articles, unpublished academic theses and dissertation, etc.). In addition, the collection includes the partial estates of Robert Walser’s siblings, as well as literary journals and magazines from the first half of the twentieth century.

Walser’s work is characterized by an extremely scattered publishing history: from 1898 until the 1930s, Walser published more than one thousand texts in over one hundred different journals and newspapers. Walser’s texts, as well as his personal papers and documents about his life, were first traced and collected after a lengthy research process. However, the research process is by no means complete; new texts and documents are still being discovered.

The Unpublished Works of Carl Seelig and the materials about the life and work of the author, publisher and literary patron, represents a second key focus of the collection.

About the History of the Archive

The Robert Walser Archive was established in 1973 by the Carl Seelig Foundation in Zurich, which emerged from the literary estate of the Zurich-based journalist, author and patron of the arts, Carl Seelig (1894–1962). Seelig regularly visited Walser at the Herisau sanitarium and became his legal guardian in 1944. Seelig had already received Walser’s unpublished works from Walser’s sister, Lisa Walser, in 1937, and after Walser’s death, an additional bundle of papers was added. Walser’s sister Fanny Hegi-Walser transferred the rights to her brother’s literary estate to the Carl Seelig Foundation, on condition that it be held in a single archive and made accessible to researchers.

Over the course of its activities, the literary estates of Hugo and Emmy Ball-Hennings, Josef Halperin, Max Müller (Friedrich Glauser Collection), Ossip Kalenter, as well as the archive of the Steinberg Verlag in Zurich, were entrusted to the Archive. These materials were made available between 2008 and 2011 and transferred to the Swiss Literary Archives (SLA) at the National Swiss Library.

Prior to its relocation to Bern, the Robert Walser Archive was located at Beethovenstrasse 7, 8002 Zurich.