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Plays

Natalia Ginzburg

Arguably the most important woman writer of post-World War II Italy, Natalia Ginzburg was born on July 14, 1916 in Palermo (Sicily), where her Jewish Trieste-born father, Giuseppe Levi, who later achieved fame as a biologist and histologist, was at the time a lecturer in comparative anatomy. Modest and intensely reserved, Ginzburg never shied away from the traumas of history, whether writing about the Turin of her childhood, the Abruzzi countryside or contemporary Rome—all the while approaching those traumas only indirectly, through the mundane details and catastrophes of personal life.

Rose Franken

Rose Dorothy Lewin Franken was a celebrated Broadway playwright and director, a Hollywood screenwriter and a popular novelist whose fiction touched a sympathetic chord in American women.

Edna Ferber

A dedicated writer for more than fifty years, Edna Ferber was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on August 15, 1885. She celebrated America even as she exposed its shortcomings. Her published work includes twelve novels, twelve collections of short stories, two autobiographies, and nine plays—most in collaboration with other playwrights.

Ruth Fainlight

Ruth Fainlight was born in New York on May 2, 1931, the daughter of a British father and an American mother with Russian-Jewish ancestry. In 1946 she settled in England, where she studied at colleges of art in Birmingham and Brighton. She married the writer Alan Sillitoe in 1959. The couple have one son and one daughter. Although a successful writer of short stories, a dramatist/librettist and translator, she is best known for her poetry, whose modern style blends subtle image-making with toughness of expression.

Phoebe Ephron

Phoebe (Wolkind) Ephron was born in the Bronx on January 26, 1914, to Louis Wolkind, a manufacturer, and Kate (Lautkin) Wolkind. She had one brother, Harold Wolkind. A graduate of James Monroe High School and Hunter College, she met Henry Ephron in 1933, while both were summer camp counselors. Shortly after, Henry Ephron proposed to her. “I expect to be a good playwright soon and I have no time for courtship,” he declared. “Let me read one of your plays,” replied his future wife. For nearly forty years, Phoebe and Henry Ephron were literary collaborators, cowriting successful Broadway plays and Hollywood films, and had four daughters, Nora, Delia, Amy, and Hallie. Their first play, Three’s a Family (1943), was based on the experiences raising their firstborn, Nora Ephron. Soon after, they moved to Los Angeles and cowrote the scripts for many major motion pictures, including There’s No Business Like Show Business, Carousel, and Captain Newman, M.D., which was nominated for an Academy Award. Desk Set, the 1957 movie starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, secured their screenwriting success.

Selina Dolaro

A woman of gusto and talent, Selina Simmons Belasco Dolaro was an exceptional performer and single mother in late nineteenth-century England and America. Through her income from singing, dancing, acting and writing, she raised and supported four children.

Esther Dischereit

Esther Dischereit’s childhood and indeed her entire life were marked by her mother’s survival in hiding together with a daughter, born in 1937, from her first marriage. After the war, her mother married a German physician and had two daughters, of whom Esther, born in 1952 in Heppenheim in southern Hesse, was the younger. Her parents divorced when Esther was seven and the children lived with their mother, who saw to it that they were instructed in Jewish religion and customs. They attended Hebrew School at the Jewish Community in Darmstadt, participating in the Purim plays, and on Friday evenings an Orthodox rabbi came to their home. When Esther was fourteen her mother died and the children lived with the father and his new family, including a half-brother and half-sister, in a small town in northern Hesse. Esther developed rapidly. She completed gymnasium (high school) in record time and attended university briefly, “fleeing” from it because there were “too many superfluous words” (Gelebte Zeit…, 144). After getting a degree in education she wanted to become a teacher since “children are all that counted for me” (Übungen jüdisch…, 199). Her first book was a children’s book. But she had come of age with the rebellious generation of 1968 and had been active in the “red cells.” This precluded a career in a public school. She apprenticed as a typesetter and worked for several years in print shops, playing an active role in the trade union. She lives in Berlin with her two daughters and holds a position with the German Trade Union Federation.

Helen Louise Cohen

Helen Louise Cohen, an educator and author, made the study of drama more accessible and vibrant to countless numbers of high school students in the first half of the twentieth century. Although Judaism seemed to play only a small role in her adult life, it is Jewish culture and values that contributed to her regard for education and helped to shape her life’s work.

Hélène Cixous

A biographical entry on the Jewish-Algerian-French writer Hélène Cixous commands close attention to her work because, in her case, “life writing,” as she calls it, is a key topic for her imaginative and critical enterprise in the fields of poetic fiction, literary theory, feminist analysis, and the theater.

Children's Literature in Hebrew

All of these aspects are clearly reflected in the developmental patterns of Hebrew children’s literature at the end of the eighteenth century; likewise, the ways in which this literature became established serve to illustrate the factors that led to the institutionalization of children’s literature in Europe in general.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Plays." (Viewed on November 26, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/plays>.

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