The Life of Arthur B. Wolf-Simon

Letters to the Editor: What Stanford’s anti-Jewish bias looked like on campus in the 1950s

I am writing in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Brown University graduation of a Jew, Dr. Arthur B. Wolf-Simon. This man, who never attended public school, graduated from Princeton under the influence of a teacher who thought his pupils should be instructed in mathematics. At Princeton, Wolf-Simon was an undergraduate editor of the Princeton Review, a student leader and a leading journalist for the New York Jewish Chronicle, and a lecturer at Brooklyn College. So, in addition to having a brilliant college record, in the process he became a member of the very select club of Jews who were awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature (not for their literary works, but as a result of their work in the fields of chemistry, physics and medicine). Of this impressive group he became editor in chief. He was the first American Jew to win a Nobel Prize.

Wolf-Simon wrote two novels, “What Happened Then?” and “The Young Lions.” Both books have been anthologized. He was the chief editor of the review in which he published a story by a young Jewish artist, Samuel Roth, who painted the famous and much-copied portrait of President Harry Truman. Roth was himself a painter and had exhibited at the Cleveland Art Museum. He also became a member of the Society of Illustrators.

I first met Wolf-Simon in 1963 when I was a college student at Northwestern, not affiliated with any Jewish organization, and had been trying to get into an American studies class. He was the chairman of the department, a professor of English. He was in his early thirties, tall, elegant, with a dashing mustache and blue eyes. At a party, I asked how he had become a Jew. He replied that his family had been converted to Judaism in Russia, and that he had been converted himself at age nine.

Wolf-Simon had been a good student and had been on the national debate team, which he graduated, as did his brothers, in the class of 1943. The following year he won a prize to study in Britain at the Royal College of Art. However, he was dissatisfied

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