Lazarus, Emma

Lazarus, Emma (1849 - 1887)


Born July 22, 1849, in New York city to Moses and Esther Nathan Lazarus, assimilated, Sephardic Jews, Emma Lazarus grew up in New York city and Newport, Rhode Island. In 1866 she published her first book, Poems and Translations, after which Emerson acted as her informal mentor. Admetus and Other Poems followed in 1871 and Alide: an Episode of Goethe's Life, a novel, in 1874. Lazarus deeply felt the persecution of the Jews in Russia in the 1880s. That, and her translation of Heinrich Heine, the German Jew, in 1881 and her own Songs of a Semite: the Dance to Death and Other Poems in 1882, turned her away from the Christian environment of her immediate family and into her Jewish roots. She called for the re-creation of a Jewish homeland that year. She went overseas, visiting European writers and cities, first in 1883 and then from May 1885 to September 1887, and creating the Society for the Improvement and Colonization of East European Jews. She also did charitable work at the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. In 1883, she contributed a sonnet, "The New Colossus," for the Art Loan Fund Exhibition in Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund for the Statue of Liberty. The Statue about which she wrote opened in 1886, although it was only in 1903 that a bronze plaque with her poem was affixed to the base of the monument. Her posthumous entry in The Dictionary of American Biography does not mention that poem. Her death came, at the age of 38 years, on Nov. 10, 1887, in New York city. She is buried in Cypress Hill Cemetery.

  • Angoff, Charles. Emma Lazarus, Poet, Jewish Activist, Pioneer Zionist. New York: Jewish Historical Society of New York, 1979.
  • The Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Woman's Clubs. Exhibit of Emma Lazarus.
  • Jacob, Heinrich Eduard. The World of Emma Lazarus. New York: Schocken Books, 1949. PS 2234 J3 Robarts Library
  • Kessner, Carole S. "Matrilineal Dissent: The Rhetoric of Zeal in Emma Lazarus, Marie Syrkin, and Cynthia Ozick." In Judith R. Baskin, ed. Women of the Word: Jewish Women and Jewish Writing. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1994.
  • Lazarus, Emma. Admetus and Other Poems. New York: Hurd and Boughton, 1871.
  • --. Alide: an Episode of Goethe's Life. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1874. [novel]
  • --. Emma Lazarus: Poet of the Jewish People. Ed. Emma Klein. Arthur James, 1997.
  • --. Catalogue of the Pedestal Fund Art Loan Exhibition. New York, 1883. ["The New Colossus."]
  • --. An Epistle to the Hebrews. Ed. Morris U. Schappes. New York: Jewish Historical Society of New York, 1987. DS 140 L34 1987 Robarts Library [Originally published serially in 1882 in American Hebrew.]
  • --. Emma Lazarus; Selections from her Poetry and Prose. Ed. Morris U. Schappes. New York: Cooperative Book League, Jewish American Section, International Workers Order, 1944. PS 2233 .A6 1944 Robarts Library
  • --. The Letters of Emma Lazarus, 1868-1885. Ed. Morris U. Schappes. New York: New York Public Library, 1949.
  • --. Poems and Translations Written between the Ages of Fourteen and Seventeen. New York: Hurd and Boughton, 1866.
  • --. The Poems of Emma Lazarus, 2 vols. Boston, 1888.
  • --. Songs of a Semite: the Dance to Death and Other Poems. New York: The American Hebrew, 1882.
  • --. The Spagnoletto. New York, 1876.
  • --, trans. Poems and Ballads of Heinrich Heine. New York, 1881.
  • Vogel, Dan. Emma Lazarus. Boston: Twayne, 1980. PS 2234 .V64 Robarts Library
  • Young, Bette Roth. Emma Lazarus in her World: Life and Letters. Foreword by Francine Klagsbrun. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1995. PS 2234 Y68 1995 Robarts Library
Given Name
Family Name
Birth Date
July 22, 1849
Death Date
November 10, 1887
Family Relations
father : Moses Lazarus
father : Esther Nathan Lazarus
Literary Period
Literary Movement
First RPO Edition