Image: Translations of Lion Feuchtwanger’s works from Special Collections at USC Libraries.
Lion Feuchtwanger was a German novelist who lived from 1884 to 1958. He is known worldwide for his historical studies of Benjamin Franklin, the Spanish painter Goya, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and such subjects as the Salem witch hunt, the French Revolution, and Rome during the first century. Many of his works attempted to come to terms with the Jewish experience in different eras and settings.
An outspoken enemy of the German National Socialist regime, Feuchtwanger escaped from Nazi Germany on the eve of World War II, living first in Southern France and ultimately fleeing Europe in 1940 to spend his final years in Los Angeles.
Unlike many of his fellow emigrants and escapees, Lion Feuchtwanger had a large overseas audience for his novels in translation before he fled to the US. With the income from his writings he was able to assist other German-Jewish and anti-Fascist writers-in-exile.
His lavish home in Pacific Palisades, called Villa Aurora today, became a mecca for European writers, artists, and musicians during the war years. It also housed his valuable collection of rare books, which he acquired for their beauty, their bibliographic importance, and as resources for his historical research.
After Lion's death, his wife Marta willed the house and her husband's fine library and personal papers to the University of Southern California. The house was sold to a German consortium interested in preserving this historic monument as a study center, and the proceeds were used to create a suite of rooms as a permanent memorial to Lion Feuchtwanger, to his late widow Marta (1891-1987), and to his literary legacy.
The Lion Feuchtwanger papers consist of the German-Jewish novelist's personal and business correspondence; manuscripts for plays, poetry, short stories, and historical novels; manuscripts by other writers including Marie Luise Fleisser, Luzi Korngold, and Alan Marcus as well as Charles Chaplin's manuscript for Limelight; correspondence with publishers; newspaper clippings mentioning Feuchtwanger and other exiles; and photographs from Feuchtwanger's life.