Born in New York City, Emma Lazarus (1849–87) was one of the first prominent Jewish American poets. Lazarus grew up in an affluent family, dividing her time between New York City and Newport, Rhode Island. She was educated by private tutors with whom she studied literature, classical and modern languages, and music. As a young woman, she began her poetry career by translating German poems, and later self-published her first collection, Poems and Translations: Written Between the Ages of Fourteen and Sixteen in 1866. Her precocious writings attracted the attention of fellow poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, to whom she dedicated her 1871 book, Admetus and Other Poems. At the height of her career in the 1880s, Lazarus published some of her most well-known works including Songs of a Semite, a collection of poems that explored her Jewish heritage. She is most famous for her 1883 sonnet, “The New Colossus,” which describes the hope of immigrants looking for a new life in the United States. In 1902, excerpts from the poem were inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, immortalizing Lazarus’ contribution to American literature.
Author: Emma Lazarus
Born in New York City, Emma Lazarus (1849–87) was one of the first prominent Jewish American poets. In 1902, 15 years after her death, excerpts from “The New Colossus” were inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, immortalizing Lazarus’ contribution to American literature.