We all know of the book; many of us may have read it. Translated into 67 languages, The Diary of Anne Frank reportedly sold over 31 million copies. I didn’t know that the book had problem finding a publisher in Britain and the US till I read about it in a letter to the editors in The New York Review of Books. The death of the book’s editor at Doubleday, Barbara Zimmerman Epstein, (in June) occasioned the letter.
The Diary of Anne Frank was published in America in 1952, five years after the book first appeared in the Netherlands. The author of the NYRB letter, Kem Knapp Sawyer, points out that Anne’s father, Otto Rank, received numerous rejections from publishers before Doubleday acquired the manuscript (1951). Following its publication he got over 30,000 letters from readers.
In the introduction to the US edition Eleanor Roosevelt wrote:
Anne Frank's account of the changes wrought upon eight people hiding out from the Nazis for two years during the occupation of Holland, living in constant fear and isolation, imprisoned not only by the terrible outward circumstances of war but inwardly by themselves, made me intimately and shockingly aware of war's greatest evil—the degradation of the human spirit.
Anne Frank died at Bergen Belson concentration camp
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