||Dan Jacobson was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, on March 7, 1929. His parents,
Hyman and Liebe (Melamed) Jacobson, were Jewish immigrants from Latvia and Lithuania.
When Jacobson was four, his family moved to the South African town of Kimberly, where
lived until he graduated from high school at the age of sixteen. He received a
bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Witwatersrand in
Johannesburg in 1948, then worked as a laborer in a kibbutz in Israel for nearly a
Following a brief period of employment in London as a teacher, Jacobson returned to
Johannesburg in 1951 and worked first as a public relations assistant for the South
African Jewish Board of Deputies and then as a journalist for its Press Digest.
||In 1952, Jacobson returned to Kimberly and worked in his father's milling/cattle feed
business. Jacobson had been writing since childhood but at this point decided to pursue
a career as a writer and began work on The
Trap. Jacobson first achieved literary success in the United States, where
his first short story, "The Box,
"was published in Commentary,
followed by the publication of other short stories in Harpers Bazaar, the New Yorker, and other magazines. In 1954, Jacobson married
Margaret Pye, a teacher and children's writer from Rhodesia whom he had met in London,
and moved permanently to London, where they have reared their four children.
||Jacobson's first two novels, The Trap
(1955) and A Dance in the Sun
(1956), were well received and won him a one-year Creative Writing Fellowship
Award at Stanford University. Upon his return to England in 1957, Jacobson continued
publish novels, short stories, essays, and book reviews. In 1959, Jacobson was the
recipient of the John Llewelyn Rhys Award for fiction for his collection of short
stories, A Long Way from London (1958).
In 1964, he received the W. Somerset Maugham award for Time of Arrival (1963), and from 1965 to 1966 he was a
visiting professor at Syracuse University.
The Beginners (1966) was Jacobson's
most autobiographical book and also his most successful financially. Jacobson's early
works had South African settings, but he essentially left this behind following the
publication of The Beginners. His next
novel, The Rape of Tamar (1970), took
up a religious theme and is one of his more popular books. In 1975, after earning
living solely from his writing for twenty years, Jacobson became a lecturer in English
at University College in London. He also turned away from writing short stories after
having had six collections of short stories published. Jacobson worked on his eighth
novel, The Confessions of Josef Baisz
(1977), for four years. As in many of his works, betrayal is a major theme. Like
The Wonder-Worker (1973), it has a
complex, multi-layered style. In 1985, Jacobson published a book of autobiographical
essays, Time and Time Again: Autobiographies;
it is his most personal work. Jacobson's recent books, Hidden in the Heart (1991) and The God-Fearer (1992), continue his study of betrayal and
the inner workings of the human mind.
||Several of Jacobson's works have been adapted for the stage; The Zulu and the Zeide was produced as a play on Broadway
in 1965, A Dance in the Sun was adapted
as Day of the Lion in Cleveland in
1968, and The Rape of Tamar was
produced as Yonadab in London in 1985.
||Jacobson, who continues as a professor of English at University College, is also still
actively writing; additional material is expected in the collection. The Jacobson
collection was purchased by the HRC in four groups from 1989 to 1992, with the exception
of one item which was received as a gift in 1966.
||More information about Dan Jacobson and his works may be found in Dan Jacobson by Sheila Roberts (Boston: Twayne Publishers,