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Adeline Cohnfeldt Lust

April 12, 1860–August 31, 1914

by Elana Shever with Ariella Shever
Last updated June 23, 2021

Adeline Cohnfeldt Lust’s second novel, A Tent of Grace, recounts the life of a Jewish orphan girl in Germany who is adopted by a Christian family yet remains Jewish. A Tent of Grace was published by Houghton, Mifflin and Company in 1899.

In Brief

Adeline Cohnfeldt Lust was a writer who published two novels and numerous short stories, newspapers articles, and editorials over her trailblazing career as a Jewish woman in journalism in the early twentieth century. Born in Germany, she immigrated to English with her family and became a published journalist at age fifteen. After immigrating to the United States, she became part of the increasing number of female journalists in the early twentieth century who defied gender norms by pursuing careers in publishing and developing new newspaper genres.

Article

Adeline Cohnfeldt Lust was a writer who published two novels and numerous short stories, newspapers articles, and editorials over her trailblazing career as a Jewish woman in journalism. 

Lust was born in Crefeld, Germany, on April 12, 1860, to Albert and Henrietta (Davis) Cohnfeldt. Her father’s family was highly educated Spanish Jews. Lust left her birthplace, along with her parents and siblings, at an early age and immigrated to England, where part of their extended family had settled earlier. Lust attended English boarding school and studied with private tutors at her family’s home in London. She was already a published journalist at age fifteen. In 1876, she and her parents joined her brothers in the United States and settled in New York City. On September 17, 1884, Adeline Cohnfeldt married Philip G. Lust, pausing her journalism career when she got married. One year later they had twins, Herbert and Frederick, but Frederick died of whooping cough before he turned five. In 1890, the family bought an Illinois insurance company and relocated to a wealthy, and predominantly Christian, suburb of Chicago, where they became civic leaders. Lust became a widow in 1907, after 23 years of marriage to Philip. She continued to live, and write, from her Chicago home until August 31, 1914, when she died in the German Hospital of Chicago at age 55.

Adeline Cohnfeldt Lust was part of the increasing number of female journalists in the United States in the early twentieth century who defied gender norms by pursuing careers in publishing and developing new newspaper genres. While a single woman in her twenties, Lust wrote “Features of New York Life” and short stories for the New York Graphic (also called the New York Illustrated Weekly Graphic). Lust then became a regular contributor to the American Press Association.

Lust’s stories were so well received that leading newspapers throughout the United States reprinted them. Both the Cincinnati Graphic and the New York Graphic published Harum Scarum as a serial novel in 1885. In this novel, an elderly Jewish woman reflects on her life, including her marriage to a non-Jewish man and her ostracization from her birth family for it. Lust’s second novel, A Tent of Grace, was published by Houghton, Mifflin and Company in 1899. Reviewers praised it as “a story of unusual power and interest” that was “forcefully written” with “strength and power.” The Chicago Daily Tribune called it “the book of the season.” A Tent of Grace recounts the life of a Jewish orphan girl in Germany who is adopted by a Christian family yet remains Jewish. The young hero struggles with her identity, her family, and her community as she falls in love with the son in her adoptive family. In her portrayal of interreligious love and romance, Lust advocated a universal enlightenment based on religious tolerance, rather than secularism, to replace antisemitism (Kirzane 2017, 49-50). Lust’s two novels demonstrate that she was a writer who grappled with some of the most important issues of her day.
 

Bibliography

AJYB 6 (1904–1905): 146–147, 24:177. 

Fahs, Alice. Out on Assignment: Newspaper Women and the Making of Modern Public Space. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2011.

Kirzane, Jessica. "The Melting Plot: Interethnic Romance in Jewish American Fiction in the Early Twentieth Century." PhD Diss, Columbia University, 2017.

Lust, Adeline C. A Tent of Grace. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1899.

Roggenkamp, Karen. Sympathy, Madness and Crime: How Four Nineteenth-Century Journalists Made the Newspaper Women's Business. Kent: The Kent State University Press, 2016.

WWWIA 4. 

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How to cite this page

Shever, Elana. "Adeline Cohnfeldt Lust." Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women. 23 June 2021. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on May 26, 2022) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/lust-adeline-cohnfeldt>.