Who is Charles Sealsfield?
Charles Sealsfield, was the pseudonym of
writer, traveler, journalist and theologist Karl Anton Postl, an
exceptional personality of the Znojmo Region and the most
significant native of Popice (Poppitz) near Znojmo.
He was born on 3rd March 1793 in Popice near
Znojmo as one of eleven children of a farmer and reeve Anton Postl
and his wife Juliana.
completing the elementary school in Popice he attended grammar
school in Znojmo in 1803-1807.
After graduation from the grammar school he entered the Knights of
the Cross with the Red Star. In 1809 he graduated in philosophy and
later theology from the Charles University; one of his professors
was also Bernard Bolzano. He took the priestly vow in 1814 and
became a secretary of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star.
In Vienna, he unsuccessfully applied for the position of a court
secretary. In 1823, during a stay in a health resort in Karlovy
Vary, he vanished without a trace.
We now know that he directed his steps via Stuttgart and Zurich to
Le Havre. In autumn 1823 he landed in New Orleans in the State of
Here, the regular Karel Postl became an American citizen and the
worldwide famous writer Charles Sealsfield (he allegedly created the
name using the name of an old wine line in Popice – Siegelfeld); his
early works, however, he published under the pseudonym C. Sidons. In
1826 he returned to Europe, but left for America again in the
following year (1827-1830).
In America he wandered along the Mississippi and across the
southwest of the United States, where he watched the life of Red
Indians and settlers. During the civil war he also travelled across
In 1829 he met Napoleon’s brother Josef Bonaparte and became his
consultant. During that time he also wrote one of his greatest works
- a two volume novel "Kniha o kajutě" ("Das Kajütenbuch").
Towards the end of 1830 Sealsfield left for Europe once again. He
lived in Paris and in London and worked as a correspondent for the
New York newspapers The Morning Courier and Enquirer. In 1831 he
published five stories in a London magazine The Englishman’s
Magazine; he later used the stories in his novels too. He returned
to America when he was 30. His last stay in the USA dates back to
1853-1858. He spent the end of his life in his farmhouse in
He died in the Swiss Solothurn on 26th May 1864. His identity was
only revealed in his testament, in which he left his legacy to his
relatives in Popice near Znojmo.
In Stuttgart and in London he published a book
“Die Vereinigten Staaten von Nordamerika” (1827) and also a
fictional travel book “Austria as it is, or, sketches of continental
courts, by an eye-witness” (1828) where he attacks the Habsburg
Monarchy. The book couldn't be published in Bohemia until 1919. In
January 1829 he published his most successful work, a novel called "Tokeah,
or the White Rose". In Mexico he researched for his book "Der Virey
und die Aristokraten oder Mexiko im Jahre 1812" (1834). Many readers
all over the world find his books very interesting.
To the many admirers of his work belong among
others the Czech writer Božena Němcová, American poet H. W.
Longfellow and Italian film director Sergio Leone.
Matters of Interest
Over the valley of the Dyje River, there is a so
called Sealsfield's Stone, a scenic overlook, where the young writer
allegedly liked to rest.
In 1881, supporters of Ch. Sealsfeld placed a
bust in the town park “Husovy sady”. After 1945, the memorial was
moved to the courtyard of the Znojmo Castle. At present there are
two Sealsfield's busts in Znojmo; the second one was returned to
Husovy sady in the 1990s.
A Charles Sealsfield Foundation was registered in Znojmo in 1993.
In the autumn of the same year, an international expert symposium to
the life and work of Charles Sealsfield took place. The foundation
already ceased to exist.
In March 1993, an exhibition "Charles Sealsfield - a Writer of
Two Continents" took place in the Museum of South Moravia.
Znojmo became a member of an International Association of Charles
Sealsfield in Mai 2002.
Znovín Znojmo in honor of Ch Sealsfield began producing wine and
champagne with his name.
In 2011, an association called "Popice Charlese
Sealsfielda, o.s.," was established; the association is actively
participating in the reconstruction of the house, where Sealsfield
was born and which will be turned into Sealsfield’s museum.