1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Töpffer, Rodolphe
TÖPFFER, RODOLPHE (1799-1846), the inventor of pedestrian journeys in Switzerland by schoolboys, was born at Geneva on the 31st of January 1799. His grandfather, a tailor, came about 1760 from Schweinfurt (Bavaria) to settle in Geneva, while his father, Adam, was an artist. Rodolphe's literary education was rather desultory, as he intended to be an artist, like his father. But in 1819 his weak eyesight put an end to that intention, so he studied in Paris, intending to devote himself to the profession of schoolmaster. After passing some time in a private school in Geneva (1822-1824), he founded (1824) one of his own, after his marriage. It was in 1823 that he made his first foot journey in the Alps with his pupils, though this became his regular practice only from 1832 onwards. These Voyages en zigzag were described annually (1832-1843) in a series of lithographed volumes, with sketches by the author—the first printed edition appeared at Paris in 1844, and a second series (Nouveaux voyages en zigzag) also at Paris in 1854. Both series have since passed through many editions. In 1832 he was named professor of belles-lettres at the university of Geneva, and held that chair till his death, on the 8th of June 1846. As early as 1834 he published an article in the Bibliothèque universelle of Geneva. It was followed by a number of tales, commencing with the Bibliothèque de mon oncle (1832), many of which were later collected (1841) into the well-known volume which bears the title of Nouvelles genevoises. He took some part (on the Conservative side) in local politics, and was (1841-1843) editor of the Courrier de Genève. Among his other works are an edition of Demosthenes (1824), and a volume of artistic studies, the Réflexions et menus propos d’un peintre génevois (1848).
Lives by A. Blondel and the abbé Relave (both published at Paris, 1886), and shorter notices in E. Rambert's Écrivains nationaux (Geneva, 1874); and E. Javelle's Souvenirs d’un alpiniste (Lausanne, 1886; Eng. trans., 1899, under the title of Alpine Memories), and several chapters in Ste Beuve’s Causeries du lundi, Derniers portraits littéraires and Portraits contemporains. (W. A. B. C.)