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Fiction

Fanny Lewald

Often compared by critics to George Sand and George Eliot, Fanny Lewald was an enormously productive, successful and respected writer in nineteenth-century Germany. Her early works of the 1840s deal in a committed manner with the political, social and religious questions of the time. Her later popular stories and novels were often first published in serial form in widely-circulated journals. She was also a gifted autobiographical writer. Her Memories of the Year 1848 gives a lively description of that dramatic year in European politics and also of her visit to Paris, where she met Heinrich Heine (1797–1856), a writer whom she greatly admired. Later she became more of a monarchist, convinced that a longer preparation for popular rule was essential; finally, she thought highly of Bismarck because of his “Realpolitik.”

Amy Levy

“Joy is my friend, not sorrow; by strange seas, / In some far land we wandered, long ago,” says Amy Levy in “The Lost Friend.” Here she expresses, as she does in so many poems, her commitment to happiness, an elusive goal despite her many friendships and her successful career as a woman of letters in London in the 1880s. Levy’s sadness and her suicide were primarily the result of what her friend Richard Garnett, British man of letters, called “constitutional melancholy,” yet her letters and other records establish that this gifted writer could be high-spirited and amusing. She was born in London on November 10, 1861, the second of the seven children of Isabel (Levin) Levy and Lewis Levy, a stockbroker. The family, which observed, mildly, the practices of Judaism, had roots in England that went back to the eighteenth century, and had strong ties to the native-born Anglo-Jewish community; nevertheless, given the rejection of religious belief in Levy’s poems, Oscar Wilde was right to say that she “ceased to hold the orthodox doctrines of her nation, retaining, however, a strong race feeling.”

Sonia Levitin

Whether Sonia Levitin is writing picture books, mysteries, humor, historical adventures or Young Adult novels dealing with the struggle of young people to find freedom and meaning in their lives, she says “I’ve come to realize I am always writing my own life story, blending personal experience with research and, of course, imagination...I write for young people because I remember my own youth so well.”

Elma Ehrlich Levinger

Active in an array of Jewish women’s and youth organizations, Elma Ehrlich Levinger was also the author of over thirty books for children and several for adults—all of which emphasize the importance of maintaining Jewish identity in America. Levinger used both drama and the short story as a means of educating young people and women about Jewish history and traditions, hoping to encourage them to participate in Jewish social life.

Emma Levine-Talmi

Emma Levine was born in Warsaw in 1905, the oldest daughter of Asher and Yehudit Levine. She had four siblings: Rachel (1907–1973), who emigrated to Palestine in 1929 with Ha-Shomer ha-Za’ir and was among the founders of [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:342]Kibbutz[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] Ein ha-Horesh, where she worked as a nursery-school teacher and raised her family; Emanuel, who also emigrated to Palestine, raised a family and engaged in light industry in Tel Aviv; Yehuda, who was killed in the Holocaust; the youngest sister, Sarah (1914–1950), who studied at a seminary for nursery-school teachers in Warsaw, worked at Janusz Korczak’s orphanage and emigrated to Palestine with a Ha-Shomer ha-Za’ir group. She was a member of Kibbutz Ramat Yohanan before moving with her family to Givatayim, where she established a model kindergarten. She died in childbirth at the age of thirty-six, leaving a husband and two children. Talmi’s parents immigrated to Palestine in 1935 and settled in Tel Aviv, where her father worked as a bookkeeper, writing in his spare time and publishing three books in Hebrew.

Sonya Levien

Sara Opesken Levien (“Sonya” is the Russian diminutive, which she used) was born on December 25, 1888, to Julius and Fanny Opesken in Panimunik, formerly Russia, now Lithuania. (She altered the date later to 1898). By the time her father immigrated to the United States in 1891, she had two younger brothers, Arnold and Max. Sonya’s father changed his name to Levien, the name of the man who had helped him escape from Siberia, where he had been exiled for political activities, and in 1896 brought his family to New York. By the time Sonya, her parents, and her Russian-born brothers were naturalized in 1905, she had two more brothers, Nathan and Edward.

Lia Levi

Lia Levi was born in Pisa on November 9, 1931 to a Jewish family of Piedmontese origins. Her father, Alessandro (1901–1973), who was born in Brescia, was an attorney at law. Her mother, Leontina Segre (1906–1984), was born in Turin and had a degree in law. They married in 1931. After the promulgation of the fascist racial laws in 1938 and the beginning of antisemitic persecutions, Lia Levi’s family left Northern Italy and found refuge in Rome. After the end of World War II Levi remained in Rome, where she completed her studies in philosophy and became a successful journalist. For more than thirty years she has directed the Jewish monthly Shalom.

Ada Leverson

One of the most attractive qualities of Ada Leverson was her unswerving loyalty to her friends, among whom she counted Oscar Wilde and his circle. She met that master of paradox in 1892, and remained faithful to him when he was pilloried as a homosexual, throughout his trials, imprisonment and exile. He admired her wit and encouraged her literary gifts, memorably calling her the “Sphinx.” Later, she would be regarded as the Egeria of the aesthetic movement of the eighteen nineties.

Gerda Lerner

Entering the field of United States history with a freshly minted Ph.D. in 1966, Gerda Lerner blazed a new professional path that led to the establishment of the field of women’s history. The force of her personality and her commitment to the possibilities contained in the historical study of women made her impervious to the ridicule with which the male-dominated historical profession initially responded to the notion of women’s history.

Blume Lempel

Blume Lempel was a master of stream-of-consciousness, flashback, free association and eroticism—all rare in Yiddish literature. Her modern short-story style was appropriate to her themes, which were often daring: incest—Oedipus in Brooklyn (1981), rape—Aleyn in Eynem (Alone Together, 1989) and the ambivalent attraction of one woman to another (Correspondents, 1992).

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Fiction." (Viewed on October 23, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/fiction>.

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