Otto Schlapp (1859-1939)

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Otto Schlapp (1859-1939) was Professor of German at Edinburgh University from 1926 to 1929.

Early Years

Schlapp was born in Erfurt, in Thuringia, Germany, on 15 May 1859. He was educated first in his native town and then, at the age of twenty, at the University of Jena. In 1880, the second year of his studies, he came to Scotland to study English and Sanskrit at Edinburgh University. He returned to Germany the following year to continue his studies at Berlin, Leipzig, and Strasbourg universities. Later on, he obtained the degree of Dr. Philos from Kaiser-Wilhelms-Universitaet zu Strassburg (Strasbourg), with a thesis entitled Die Anfaenge von Kants Kritik des Geschmacks und des Genies, 1764 bis 1775: Erster Teil einer Untersuchung ueber Kants Lehre vom Genie und die Entstehung der Kritik der Urteilskraft.

Schlapp and Edinburgh

Returning to Edinburgh in 1887, Schlapp taught German at George Watson's College and at Edinburgh Ladies' College. In 1894 Schlapp was appointed Edinburgh University's first Lecturer in German, and in 1920 he was appointed Reader. In 1926, Schlapp became the University's first Professor of German. His publications include Bilder aus Sizilien (1885), Kants Lehre vom Genie und die Entstehung der 'Kritik der Urteilskraft' (1901), a revision and enlargement of Chamber's elementary German grammar (1904), and a revision and enlargement of Chambers's advanced German grammar (1905). Earlier in his life, in 1899, Schlapp gave up his German nationality, and he became a British subject in 1914. He retired through ill-health in 1929, and received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Edinburgh University in 1930. In 1932, he stood for the post of Rector at Edinburgh, coming second behind Sir Ian Hamilton (1853-1947). Professor Otto Schlapp died on 26 December 1939.


Schlapp's son Robert Schlapp (1899-1991) lectured in Applied Mathematics and Mathematical Physics at Edinburgh University. Another son (and Edinburgh alumnus) Walter Schlapp (1898-1966) became Professor of Physiology at Manchester University.


Papers of Professor Otto Schlapp