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Bel Kaufman
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    (May 10, 1911-July 25, 2014)
    Born in Berlin, Germany
    Granddaughter of Yiddish humorist Sholem Aleichem
    Emigrated to the US with her parents at age 12
    Wrote the novel 'Up the Down Staircase' (1965)
    She shortened her first name from 'Belle' to the more androgynous 'Bel' so her short stories would be published in 'gentleman's magazines' like Esquire.
    She was a literary one-hit wonder as none of her other novels came close to repeating the success of 'Up the Down Staircase.'
    She said, 'I do not like writing. In truth, I hate writing and would rather do anything else.'
    Her application for a teaching certificate was rejected by the New York City Board of Examiners over her interpretation of a sonnet by Edna St. Vincent MIllay. She responded by sending her interpretation to MIllay, who wrote back, 'You gave a much better explanation of it than I myself should have.' The chastened examiners backed down and issued the certificate.
    She wrote 'Up the Down Staircase' based on her experiences as a teacher and her encounters with the educational bureaucracy.
    'Staircase' was described by Time as 'easily the most popular novel about US public schools in history.'
    At 99, she became the oldest professor in the US when her alma mater, Hunter College, hired her to teach a course on Jewish humor.
    She quipped, 'I'm too busy to get old.'

Credit: C. Fishel

    For 2020, as of last week, Out of 2 Votes: 50.0% Annoying
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