Authors: Israel Zangwill

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

English novelist

Identity: Jewish

Author Works

Long Fiction:

The Premier and the Painter, 1888 (with Louis Cowen, as J. Freeman Bell)

The Big Bow Mystery: The Perfect Crime, 1892

Children of the Ghetto: Being Pictures of a Peculiar People, 1892

The Master, 1895

The People’s Saviour, 1898

The Mantle of Elijah, 1900

Jinny the Carrier: A Folk Comedy of Rural England, 1919

Short Fiction:

The Bachelors’ Club, 1891

The Old Maids’ Club, 1892

Ghetto Tragedies, 1893

Merely Mary Ann, 1893

The King of Schnorrers: Grotesques and Fantasies, 1894

Dreamers of the Ghetto, 1898

The Celibate’s Club: Being the United Stories of the Bachelors’ Club and the Old Maids’ Club, 1898

The Grey Wig: Stories and Novelettes, 1903

Ghetto Comedies, 1907


The Great Demonstration, pr. 1892

Aladdin at Sea, pr. 1893

The Lady Journalist, pr. 1893

Six Persons, pr. 1893

Threepenny Bits, pr. 1895

Children of the Ghetto, pr. 1899 (adaptation of his novel)

The Moment of Death, pr. 1900

The Revolted Daughter, pr. 1901

Merely Mary Ann, pr., pb. 1903 (adaptation of his short story)

The Serio-Comic Governess, pr., pb. 1904

Nurse Marjorie, pr., pb. 1906

The Melting-Pot, pr., pb. 1909

The War God, pr., pb. 1911

The Next Religion, pr., pb. 1912

Plaster Saints, pr., pb. 1914

The Moment Before, pr. 1916

Too Much Money, pr. 1918

The Cockpit, pr., pb. 1921

The Forcing House: Or, The Cockpit Continued, pb. 1922

We Moderns, pr. 1923

The King of Schnorrers, pr. 1925 (adaptation of his novella)


The Ballad of Moses, 1892

Blind Children, 1903


Motza Kleis, 1882 (anonymously with Louis Cowen)

“A Doll’s House”; Repaired, 1891 (with Eleanor Marx Aveling)

Hebrew, Jew, Israelite, 1892

The Position of Judaism, 1895

Without Prejudice, 1896

Dreamers of the Ghetto, 1898

The People’s Saviour, 1898

The East African Question: Zionism and England’s Offer, 1904

What Is the ITO?, 1905

A Land of Refuge, 1907

Talked Out!, 1907

One and One Are Two, 1907

Old Fogeys and Old Bogeys, 1909

The Lock on the Ladies, 1909

Report on the Purpose of Jewish Settlement in Cyrenaica, 1909

Be Fruitful and Multiply, 1909

Italian Fantasies, 1910

Sword and Spirit, 1910

The Hitertos, 1912

The Problem of the Jewish Race, 1912

Report on the Jewish Settlement in Angora, 1913

The War and the Women, 1915

The War for the World, 1916

The Principle of Nationalities, 1917

The Service of the Synagogue, 1917 (with Nina Davis Salaman and Elsie Davis)

Chosen Peoples: The Hebraic Ideal Versus the Teutonic, 1918

Hands off Russia, 1919

The Jewish Pogroms in the Ukraine, 1919 (with others)

The Voice of Jerusalem, 1920

Watchman, What of the Night?, 1923

Is the Ku Klux Klan Constructive or Destructive? A Debate Between Imperial Wizard Evans, Israel Zangwill, and Others, 1924

Now and Forever: A Conversation with Mr. Israel Zangwill on the Jew and the Future, 1925 (with Samuel Roth)

Our Own, 1926

Speeches, Articles, and Letters, 1937

Zangwill in the Melting-Pot: Selections, n.d


Selected Religious Poems of Ibn Gabirol, Solomon ben Judah, Known as Avicebron, 1020?-1070?, 1923


Israel Zangwill, born in London on February 14, 1864, was one of the outstanding Jewish authors and leaders of his time. His family, Russian Jews, had fled Russia and settled in England before his birth. A graduate of the Jews’ Free School in London, he remained at the school as a teacher in order to finance his studies at London University, which he attended at the same time he was teaching. Despite the rigor of this dual program, Zangwill graduated from the university with highest honors. After graduation he left teaching for a career in journalism. He founded and edited Ariel, the London Puck, and he wrote for various other London periodicals.{$I[AN]9810000048}{$I[A]Zangwill, Israel}{$I[geo]ENGLAND;Zangwill, Israel}{$I[geo]JEWISH;Zangwill, Israel}{$I[tim]1864;Zangwill, Israel}

His critical fame began with the publication of Children of the Ghetto, the first of his novels of Jewish life. At the time the novel attracted considerable attention largely because of its subject matter, and Zangwill has been credited with the prevention of anti-Jewish legislation by Parliament through its publication. Other novels about Jewish people followed, including The Master and The Mantle of Elijah. Dreamers of the Ghetto is a series of essays on such notable Jewish thinkers and leaders as Baruch Spinoza, Heinrich Heine, and Benjamin Disraeli.

Although he won fame as–and will probably be remembered as–a novelist interpreting Jews and Jewish life, Zangwill wished to excel as a dramatist rather than as a writer of fiction. Some of his most popular plays were dramatizations of his fiction that had been published earlier, such as Merely Mary Ann, his most popular comedy, and Children of the Ghetto. Zangwill’s plays were produced in Jewish communities everywhere, in both Yiddish and English, and he tried for more than a decade to be the great dramatist of the Yiddish theater. Later critics have not been kind to his plays, and even the dramatist admitted that they were less successful artistically than they were popular. In addition to being a writer, Zangwill was an influential Jewish leader and a popular lecturer whose work in the cause of twentieth century Zionism was of considerable historical importance.

Zangwill is also remembered for two other reasons. First, his detective novel, a police procedural titled The Big Bow Mystery, is considered the first full-length treatment of the “locked room” type of story (in which a murder victim is discovered in a room that it seems impossible for the perpetrator to have entered) in detective literature. Second, his play The Melting-Pot popularized the notion of the United States as a crucible, or melting pot, in which the new identity of “real Americans” would emerge from the combination of many European immigrant cultures. Its optimistic, romanticized view of the melting away of differences and hatreds was appreciated by many, including President Theodore Roosevelt, who reportedly declared, “That’s a great play, Mr. Zangwill,” after its Broadway opening.

BibliographyAdams, Elsie Bonita. Israel Zangwill. New York: Twayne, 1971. Along with a thorough critical analysis of Zangwill’s literary works, Adams provides a brief biography, a chronology, and an annotated bibliography.Gilman, Sander L. Multiculturalism and the Jews. New York: Routledge, 2006. Study of the representation of Jewish identity and multiculturalism in literature by a preeminent scholar; includes a chapter on Zangwill’s notion of the “melting pot.”Kahn-Paycha, Danièle. Popular Jewish Literature and Its Role in the Making of an Identity. Lewiston, N.Y.: E. Mellen Press, 2000. Zangwill and Philip Roth are the two major subjects of this study.Roth, Laurence. Inspecting Jews: American Jewish Detective Stories. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2004. Detailed examination of the figure of the Jewish American detective and of the Jewish American authors who write about him.Udelson, Joseph H. Dreamer of the Ghetto: The Life and Works of Israel Zangwill. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1990. Udelson views Zangwill’s works as a series of meditations on the nature of Jewish identity. He analyzes the contradictory positions Zangwill entertained from time to time.Wohlgelernter, Maurice. Israel Zangwill: A Study. New York: Columbia University Press, 1964. Concentrates on Zangwill’s ideas regarding Zionism and religion, as well as art and politics. One chapter analyses the concept of ethnic amalgamation expressed in The Melting-Pot, along with reactions to the play.
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