Naomi Jacob 1884 to 1964
August 27th 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of the prolific author, biographer and broadcaster Naomi Jacob. This website celebrates her life and work, and the first digital publication of her much-loved series of novels The Gollantz Saga.
About Naomi Jacob
Her paternal grandfather was a Jewish tailor who had escaped the pogroms of Western Prussia and settled in England. Her maternal grandfather was the two-time mayor of Ripon in Yorkshire, England.
She loved the theatre and became a character actress on stage and in film, notably opposite John Geilgud in The Ringer (1936). She also associated with the Du Mauriers, Henry Irving, Marie Lloyd and Sarah Bernhardt. At 18 she became secretary, and lover, of music hall star Marguerite Broadfoote.
She published her first novel, Jacob Usher in 1925. It became a bestseller.
In 1928 she appeared for the defence of Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness, and developed a friendship with Hall and her companion Una Troubridge.
After suffering with tuberculosis, in 1930 she left England for Italy, where she lived for most of the rest of her life.
In 1935 she was awarded the Eichelberger International Humane Award, for outstanding achievement in the field of humane endeavour, for her novel Honour Come Back. She was forced to reject the award when she discovered that a previous recipient had been Adolf Hitler.
She was involved in politics – she stood as a Labour PPC (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) and was a suffragette.
In 1940, she was evacuated back to England when Italy entered the Second World War. She joined the Entertainments National Service Association, becoming famous for her flamboyant appearance— crew cut hair, and wearing a monocle and First World War Women’s Legion uniform.
She wrote the seven-novel Gollantz saga about several generations of a Jewish family, tracing their path from Vienna in the early nineteenth century to establishing a life and antique business in England in the twentieth century.