Meyer Levin

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General Information

Name: Meyer Levin

Pen Name: None

Genres: Fiction, Non-Fiction, History

Born: 1905 in Chicago, Illinois

Died: July 9, 1981 in Jerusalem, Israel

Illinois Connection

Levin was born in and lived in Chicago. He attended the University of Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Levin was an American novelist, playwright, writer, columnist, editor, reporter, war correspondent, director, actor and producer. He went to the University of Chicago, where he was a student reporter and covered the muder trial of Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold. He graduated in 1924. Already a reporter and a columnist for the Chicago Daily News, he worked there until 1925, when he went abroad for a year to study painting at the Academie Moderne in Paris and to travel. He returned to the News and in 1929 produced his first novel, Reporter.

His fiction carefully reflected the world he knew firsthand, such as The New Bridge (1933), The Old Bunch (1937) and Citizens (1940), all set among Russian-Jewish immigrants in Chicago. Citizens is about the 1937 steel strikes in Chicago, in which 10 strikers were killed.

With the publication of Yehuda in 1931 - a novel set on a kibbutz in what was then Palestine - Levin first became known as a writer and a noted chronicler of contemporary Jewish life. In the wake of World War II and the revelation of the Holocaust, that aspect of his work deepened. Both My Father's House (1947) and Eva (1959) deal with the drama of young people who are drivent out of Poland and escaping to Palestine to reunite. The Search, his autobiography, was published in 1950.

From 1933 to 1939 Levin worked as an associate editor and film critic with Esquire magazine and was a reporter of the loyalist side in the Spanish Civil War. He was also a war correspondent during World War II. Other works include The Settlers (1972) and The Illegals (1977), a film telling the story of the journey of Jewish immigrants from Poland to Israel.

In 1956, Levin returned to the Chicago of his youth to write Compulsion, a fictional account of the Leopold-Loeb murder trial. Levin had attended college with Leopold and Loeb at the University of Chicago, before the murder of Bobby Franks. He subsequently adapted it as a play, which had a notable run on Broadway and was made into a successful film in 1959. The novel brought Levin a Special Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America in 1957.

Levin's frustrated attempts to dramatize the diary of Anne Frank led him to write two novels (The Fanatic in 1964 and The Obsession in 1973) that dealt with his belief that his treatment of the material was rejected because of his strong anti-Communist stance. Much of his later life was spent in Israel, which inspired the novels Gore and Igor (1968), The Settlers (1972) and its sequel The Harvest (1978). Levin's last published work was The Architect (1982), in which he revisited early-20th-century Chicago in a fictionalized treatment of the life of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Published Works

  • The Reporter, The John Day Company, 1929
  • Frankie and Johnny, 1930
  • Yehuda, J. Cape & H. Smith, 1931
  • The New Bridge, Covici Friede, 1933
  • The Old Bunch, Simon & Schuster, 1937
  • Citizens, Viking, 1940
  • My Father's House, Viking, 1947
  • In Search, Horizon Books, 1949
  • Compulsion, Simon & Schuster, 1956
  • Eva, A Novelof the Holocaust, Simon & Schuster, 1959
  • The Fanatic, Simon & Schuster, 1964
  • The Stronghold, Simon & Schuster, 1965
  • Gore and Igor, An Extravaganza, Simon & Schuster, 1968
  • The Settlers, Simon & Schuster, 1972
  • The Obsession, Simon & Schuster, 1974
  • The Spell of Time, A Tale of Love in Jerusalem, Praeger, 1974
  • The Harvest, Simon & Schuster, 1978
  • The Architect, Simon & Schuster, 1981

Titles for Purchase and at Your Library

The Young Lovers (Frankie and Johnny) (Signet #911)

ISBN: 0451009118
Release Date: 1952-12-01

Find on World Cat


Release Date: 1931


Release Date: 1973

The Obsession

ISBN: 0671216740
Release Date: 1973-02-12

Find on World Cat

Literary Awards

William & Janice Epstein Fiction Award from the Jewish Book Council of America, and Harry and Ethel Daroff Fiction Award for The Stronghold

Special Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America in 1957 for Compulsion

Isaac Siegel Memorial Juvenile Book Award and Charles and Bertie Schwartz Juvenile Book Award, both from Jewish Book Council of America for The Story of Israel

Special citation from World Federation of Bergen/Belsen Associations in 1969 for "excellence and distinction in literature of the Holocaust and Jewish destiny"

External Links

Meyer Levin on WorldCat

Meyer Levin on Amazon


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