Biography

Isaac Bashevis Singer was born Izaak Zynger on July 14, 1904 in Leoncin in the Russian Empire. The village is now part of east-central Poland.

In 1907, the family moved to the poor, Yiddish-speaking Jewish Quarter in Warsaw where they eventually settled in an apartment on Krochmalna Street. This street and the Jewish Quarter in Warsaw came to figure prominently in a number of Singer's works.

Due to the suffering brought about by World War I, in 1917 Singer moved with his mother and younger brother to his mother's hometown of Bilgoraj in south-eastern Poland. In the early 1920s, at the urging of his older brother, Israel Joshua Singer (also a writer), Isaac Bashevis Singer moved to Warsaw. He found a job as a proofreader for Literarische Bleter where his brother was the editor.

Greatly influenced by his older brother, Singer was determined to become a writer and began his career writing exclusively in Yiddish. His first stories were published, some serialized, in <>Literarische Bleter and Undzer Ekspres. In 1925 he won the first of several prizes in literature that he would earn throughout his career. The prize was for his short story entitled "In Old Age." Early in his writing career he used the pseudonym Izaak Baszewis, derived from his mother's first name, to distinguish himself from his brother. Later, he expanded his penname to how he is now known: Issac Bashevis Singer.

In 1935 he emigrated to the United States and became a citizen in 1943. It was during this time while he was working as a proofreader and journalist for Forverts that he realized he had a limited future as a writer in America if he continued to publish only in Yiddish. Thus, he readily encouraged translations of his works into English, which he considered his second mother tongue (Yiddish being his first). As a result of this decision, he achieved worldwide recognition.

In his lifetime, Singer published 14 novels, 10 volumes of short stories, 5 volumes of memoirs, 16 books for childrem, and 3 anthologies of selected writings. Several of his works were adapted into movies: Enemies, a Love Story, Love Comes Lately, The Magician of Lublin and Yentl. He won important and prestigious literary prizes from the United States, Italy, France, Israel, and Sweden's Nobel Prize in Literature (1978).

Just after his 87th birthday, he died on July 24, 1991, in Surfside, Florida, where he had made his home for a number of years.


Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature - 1978
Awards, Honors, and Prizes
Awards, Honors, and Prizes
Scholarship about Isaac Bashevis Singer
Scholarship about Isaac Bashevis Singer - Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas
Interviews and Analyses
Images of Isaac Bashevis Singer
 
   
 
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