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Date: Thursday 11 May 2017
Price: Free with museum entry
The publication of Children of the Ghetto in 1892 propelled its little known young author, Israel Zangwill, into instant celebrity. Zangwill was celebrated as the ‘Jewish Dickens’, and his book was deemed ‘the best Jewish novel ever written’, credited with influencing British public opinion towards new sympathy for Jewish immigrants fleeing eastern Europe.
Zangwill’s witty portrait of the dilemmas of East End Jewish life was written at a time when the mass migration of Jews to Britain was being hotly debated, both in popular politics and within Jewish London. But Zangwill was also acutely aware that he was witnessing a community facing unprecedented change, whose future was unpredictable. This lecture will bring Zangwill’s novel to life using the Jewish Museum’s unique collection of objects from the Victorian East End of Children of the Ghetto.
Dr Nadia Valman is Reader in English Literature at Queen Mary, University of London. She has authored and edited nine books on Jews and literature and is currently researching the literary history of the East End of London. She leads guided literary walks and is the writer and producer of Zangwill’s Spitalfields, a free downloadable smartphone guide to the East End through the eyes of Israel Zangwill.