Women of Valor



Emma Lazarus, 1849 - 1887

Emma Lazarus's second book, Admetus and Other Poems, was published in 1871 to excellent reviews. Illustrated London News declared, "Miss Lazarus must be hailed by impartial literary criticism as a poet of rare original power."

Her only novel, Alide: An Episode in Goethe's Life, appeared three years later. An adaptation of the German writer's autobiography, this book was also highly praised. The famous Russian author Turgenev told Lazarus that, "An author who writes as you do...is not far from being himself a master."

Throughout the 1870's, Lazarus published poetry in popular magazines, most frequently in Lippincott's. By 1882, over 50 of her poems and translations had appeared in mainstream periodicals. In 1876, she also completed a drama, The Spagnoletto. While the play was praised by friends like Thomas W. Higginson, it was privately published and never performed.

In 1881, her translations of the German Jewish poet Heine garnered Lazarus the best reviews yet. The Critic called her Poems and Ballads of Heinrich Heine, "... a copy of an artist's work made by an artist's hand."

  1. Illustrated London News is quoted in an ad placed in Emma Lazarus, Songs of a Semite: The Dance to the Death and Other Poems (New York: The American Hebrew, 1882).
  2. For Turgenev's letter, see Turguéneff, Ivan, "Dear Miss Lazarus," in Letters to Emma Lazarus in the Columbia University Library 16.
  3. On Lazarus' magazine publications, see Young 7 and the selected bibliography in Dan Vogel, Emma Lazarus (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1980) 174-6.
  4. Higginson's praise is noted in Lazarus's letter to him, 4 November 1876 (courtesy of Boston Public Library.) Quoted in Baym 273 footnote 25.
  5. For quotes praising Lazarus's Heine translation, see Aaron Kramer, "The Link Between Heinrich Heine and Emma Lazarus," Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society 45 (1955): 250-1.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Emma Lazarus - Success." (Viewed on April 20, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/lazarus/success>.