In 1903, sixteen years after Emma Lazarus's death, a plaque with her poem "The New Colossus" was mounted onto the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. The addition transformed a monument to the American Revolution into a symbol of hope for millions of immigrants and made Emma Lazarus famous. But as Esther Schor shows in her new biography, Emma Lazarus, this was only a surprising epilogue to a life of remarkable achievements. Drawing on recently discovered letters, Schor traces Lazarus's childhood among New York's Sephardic elite, her teenage friendship with Emerson, and her work on behalf of victims of Russian pogroms. Esther Schor is a poet and professor of English at Princeton.
Recorded Monday, October 30, 2006 at The Woman's Club of Evanston.