Lazarus, Emma

Lazarus, Emma

biographical name

(born July 22, 1849, New York, N.Y., U.S.—died Nov. 19, 1887, New York) U.S. writer. She was born into a cultured Jewish family and learned languages and the classics at an early age. Her first book (1867) caught the attention of Ralph Waldo Emerson, with whom she corresponded thereafter. She wrote a prose romance and translated Heinrich Heine's poems and ballads. She took up the defense of persecuted Jews c. 1881 and began working for the relief of new immigrants to the U.S. The famous closing lines to her poem “The New Colossus” (1883) were inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty (see Statue of Liberty National Monument), dedicated in 1886.

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