Kathrine Kressmann was born in Portland, Oregon. She exhibited her literary talents early, when at the age of nine she won her first writing contest. Her literary presence became known in 1938 when, after moving the family to New York, she published the epistolary novel, Address Unknown, in Story magazine. It appeared under the literary pseudonym, Kressmann Taylor since, at the time, both her husband and her editor, Whit Burnett, advised that the story was “too strong to appear under the name of a woman.
Address Unknown won immediate acclaim and popularity in this country as one of the first published works to condemn Nazism. On a deeper level, the work demonstrated how, as Kathrine Kressmann Taylor states in an article written about her for Pittsburgh’s This Week magazine, “violence and intolerance breed violence and intolerance” (“The Woman Who Jolted America" 14). The story also appeared in Reader’s Digest, a journal that, until the appearance of Address Unknown, had printed only non-fiction. Simon & Schuster then published the story in book form a year later, in 1939.
Kressmann Taylor would again expose the clandestine actions of the Hitler’s regime in Until That Day (Day of No Return, 2003) published in 1942, a novel based on the true story of Leopold Bernhard, a German cleric who sought asylum in the United States after having suffered religious persecution by the Nazis.
by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor
HOWELL GALLERY (Walpole, New Hampshire)
DATE: Saturday, April 18 | 7:00pm
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YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY (York, Maine)
DATE: Friday, April 24TH - 7:30pm
DATE: Saturday, 25TH - 7:30pm
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FEATURING: Alex Davis & David Newman
DIRECTED BY: David Newman
First published in 1938 in Story magazine, “Address Unknown” was a wake-up call for Americans revealing the true nature of the Nazi menace. This punchy epistolary tale enacts a stunning drama of friendship, betrayal and vengeance.
In 1932, San Francisco art-gallery owner Max Eisenstein, a Jew who grew up in pre-Nazi Germany, bids farewell to his longtime friend and business partner Martin Schulse, who returns with his family to Munich. Through their letters to one another, which quickly move from warmth to a chilling disregard, we watch as the once-liberal Martin, seduced by grandiose visions of German destiny and by the rantings of "our Glorious Leader," vents an anti-Semitism that he tortuously rationalizes.
Max, alarmed by reports of anti-Jewish persecution in Germany, asks Martin to look after his sister, Griselle, who is an opera singer performing in Berlin. When she is murdered by Nazi storm troopers after being refused refuge at the Schulse house, Max takes revenge through a clever epistolary ploy that provides a satisfying surprise ending.
Seventy- five years after its initial publication, Kressman's story serves not only as a reminder of Nazi horrors but as a cautionary tale in light of current racial, ethnic and nationalist intolerance.