Samuel Kostomlatský

The family history of Samuel Kostomlatský is in itself remarkable. His father was of Jewish origin, his name was Herschel Pinkas. He graduated as a mechanical engineer. A serious accident and long convalescence led him to convert to Christianity. He changed his name to Josef Kostomlatský, went to Switzerland to the seminary, and soon became a prominent figure in what is today the Church of the Brethren. He served it in several towns, including Bystré, whare Samuel and his sister were born. His finally moved to Brno and spent 16 years there. He died in 1918. He is still remembered today as the publisher of the magazine Betanie and an important organizer of church life. (Kořínková 2011)

Samuel Kostomlatský (1895–1984), the son of Josef Kostomlatský, was the first lecturer of our department and has taught there for over half a century. Originally, he went to Glasgow in 1913 to study theology and stayed there until the end of World War I. On his return at the age of 23, he left his work for the Church, turned down offers of a diplomatic post and began teaching English in Brno. He joined the department in 1921, and was mainly engaged in teaching practical language. Many of his students remember him fondly, among others the translator Antonín Přidal (read the respective chapter from his book; in Czech). Kostomlatský authored an innovative textbook of English conversation, entitled Don’t Stand on Ceremony, which was never published. He did, however, publish the textbook English idioms and their function in speech (Brno: UJEP 1971).
Kostomlatský is the author of two extensive translations, Dickens’s David Copperfield and The Tomb of Tut-An-Khamen by the tomb’s discoverers Carter and Mace. He also assisted many colleagues from other Faculty departments by translating their scholarly articles and abstracts into English for many years.

Furthermore, Kostomlatský was a poet and writer. He wrote occasional poems and, above all, the lyrical novel Plameny mezi buky (Flames among the Beeches). Its poetic and rather magical text alternates between prose and verse, expressing the author’s love for the Chřiby Mountains, where he and his wife would go so often. Indeed, his tombstone says nothing about teaching English. It reads (in Czech): “Samuel Kostomlatský / Poet of Chřiby.”

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“It has been said that virtually everyone who learned or studied English in Brno between 1920 and 1960 was a pupil of Samuel Kostomlatský: altogether, they must have numbered in the thousands.”

Hladký, Josef: Samuel Kostomlatský. BSE 16, 1985.

Samuel Kostomlatský’s publications


  • Howard Carter and A. C. Mace: Hrobka Tut-anch-amonova. Letovice: Humana a Brno: A. Vaďura, 1925.
  • Charles Dickens: Život s dobrým koncem (David Copperfield). Praha: Melantrich 1932.
  • Translations of scholarly articles and abstracts for colleagues (Richard Pražák, Antonín Bartoněk and others).


  • Samuel Kostomlatský v Encyklopedii dějin města Brna.
  • Hladký, Josef: Samuel Kostomlatský. In: Brno studies in English. 1985, sv. 16 = Sborník prací Filozofické fakulty brněnské univerzity. Řada K, germanisticko-anglistická. 1985, roč. 34, č. K7, s. 171-172.
  • Hladký, Josef: Samuel Kostomlatský. Universitas, 2005.
  • Kořínková, Daniela (2011): Z historie evangelických církví na území města Brna v 19. a 20. století. B.A. thesis, Faculty of Education, Masaryk University. Supervisor: Mgr. Jiří Mihola, Ph.D.
  • Přidal, Antonín: Kroky starého pána. In: Potulky knihami a časem. Brno: Barrister & Principal 2011. Pp. 197–206.
Samuel (left) with sister Lydia
Samuel with his parents
Samuel Kostomlatský’s father (courtesy Church of the Brethren, Brno)
Samuel with his parents and sister Lydia (familiy photos courtesy Church of the Brethren)
Plameny mezi buky, 1937
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A page from Plameny mezi buky, with author’s correction of a printing error
Title page of the translation of Carter and Mace’s book
S. Kostomlatský’s tombstone, Brno Central Cemetery
Department staff members at Kostomlatský’s grave, Oct 16, 2021
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