Litvinoff, Emanuel

Emanuel Litvinoff was a British writer who is known for his Anglo-Jewish literary work and his campaigns for human rights. He was born in 1915 to Russian Jewish parents and grew up in the East End of London. Having left school at the age of fourteen, Litvinoff endured years of poverty and eventually volunteered for military service in 1940. During his time in the British army, he published his first volume of poetry, The Untried Soldier (1942). In much of his verse collections and novels, Litvinoff explores Jewish identity in 20th-century Europe. With his poem “To T.S. Eliot” (1951), he criticised T.S. Eliot for antisemitic sentiments in a number of his poems. Although his literary work primarily includes novels, short stories, and poetry, Litvinoff also wrote television plays for drama anthology series like Armchair Theatre. Among these were Another Branch of the Family (1967), A Foot in the Door (1969), and The World in a Room (1970). Litvinoff also worked as an editor of The Penguin Book of Jewish Short Stories (1979) and of periodicals like Zionist Review and Jews in Eastern Europe.

On a visit to Russia in the 1950s, Litvinoff became aware of the misery of persecuted Soviet Jews and initiated a global campaign for their liberation. His effort resulted in an enhanced awareness of the issue among prominent Jewish groups in the United States. The welfare of Soviet Jews became cause for an international campaign, which eventually lead to the mass migration of Jews from the Soviet Union to the United States and Israel.

Emanuel Litvinoff died in 2011.