Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook

By Denise D. Knight | Go to book overview
Save to active project

EMMA LAZARUS (1849-1887)

Carolyn A. Statler


BIOGRAPHY

Emma Lazarus was born in New York City on July 22, 1849, the fourth of seven children, to a close-knit, wealthy Jewish family. The children were probably tutored privately in the classical tradition--literature, the arts, mythology, and languages. The family belonged to a synagogue, but "the religious side of Judaism held little interest for Miss Lazarus or . . . her family" ( Cowen241).

Biographers have relied heavily on a memoir written by her sister Josephine for information about Lazarus's life. Lazarus is painted as shy and retiring so that "one hesitates to lift the veil and throw light upon a life so hidden and a personality so withdrawn" (1), and as a "true woman, too distinctly feminine to wish to be exceptional" (9).

However, she was also "much sought after in cultured society in New York" ( Cohen321) and always "on fire about something" ( Cowen240). This shy woman sent her first book, Poems and Translations Written Between the Ages of Fourteen and Sixteen ( 1866), to Ralph Waldo Emerson, whom she had met at the home of a friend. Emerson became her literary mentor, and Lazarus dedicated her second book, Admetus and Other Poems ( 1871), to him. When Emerson did not include her work in Parnassus, his collection of British and American poetry, Lazarus wrote, expressing her disappointment and questioning his omission.

A personal and literary turning point came with her response to the persecution of Russian Jews ( 1881-1882) and the subsequent immigration of many Jews to the United States. She visited the immigrants on Ward's Island, helped establish the Hebrew Technical Institute to provide training for immigrants, and

-301-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 540

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?