Birth of Babette Deutsch: poet, novelist, critic
Celebrated poet, novelist, critic, and editor Babette Deutsch was born on September 22, 1895. While still a student at Barnard College, Deutsch had her first poems published in magazines, and her first volume of poetry, Banners, was published only two years after she graduated. Many more volumes of poetry followed, including 1928's Honey Out of A Rock, which touched on varied biblical and Jewish themes. Deutsch also wrote a number of novels, including A Brittle Heaven (1926), In Such a Night (1927), and The Mask of Silenus (1933).
In addition to her work as a poet and novelist, Deutsch was a noted literary critic, as well as a writer of fiction and biographies for children. In 1958 she was elected to the National Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 1969 served as that organization's secretary. Deutsch was on the advisory board of the National Book Committee, chancellor for the Academy of American Poets, and a consultant for the Library of Congress.
Although Deutsch led a busy professional life, she also devoted much of her time to the Jewish community. Deutsch often worked with the Young Men's Hebrew Association, serving as a lecturer in their Poetry Center. Much of her poetry reflected her Jewish heritage, and her last three books of poetry all dealt with her anger at the horrors of the Holocaust and her efforts to make sense of such great tragedy. Deutsch died in 1982.
Sources: Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, pp. 328-329; New York Times, November 15, 1982.
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Jewish Women's Archive. "Birth of Babette Deutsch: poet, novelist, critic." (Viewed on December 4, 2023) <https://jwa.org/thisweek/sep/22/1895/babette-deutsch>.