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Sample Autograph Signature: Hermann Kesten

German novelist, playwright, publisher, essayist and humanitarian. Hermann Kesten (1900 - 1996) was born into a Jewish family in Podwo³oczyska, Galicia, then part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and now Pidwolotschisk in the Ukraine. His family relocated to Nuremberg, Germany in 1904. After attending elementary school he entered the local Königlich Alten-Gymnasium. Dissatisfied with the authoritarian and conformist environment at the school, he left in 1919 before taking his graduation examinations, and in September 1919 began studying jurisprudence and political economy at the University of Erlangen. In September 1919 he transferred to the University of Frankfurt on Main where he studied history, German language and literature, and philosophy until 1923. His father had died in Poland in 1918 fighting in WWI and by 1921 post-war inflation had left his mother in poverty. Between 1923 and 1926 he worked with his mother in her second-hand fur and platinum trade, and later traveled through Europe and North Africa. His first published work was a novella, Vergebliche Flucht (Futile Escape), which appeared in the Frankfurter Zeitung in 1926. His debut novel, Josef sucht die Freiheit/ (Josef Seeks Freedom), was published in 1928 as the first novel in the tetralogy Das Ende eines großen Mannes (The End of a Great Man) which he completed in 1932. Kesten moved to Berlin in 1927 where he worked as an author, and then as an editor with the Kiepenheuer publishing house. Until 1933, Kesten also wrote short stories, some dramatic works, and contributed to numerous political and cultural journals of the Weimar Republic. Through his work with Kiepenheuer he had met many of Germany's noted contemporary writers, but fled to France in 1933, then to Brussels and finally to Amsterdam where he headed the German department of the Allert de Lange publishing house, and also published the works of German emigrants competitively and cooperatively with the second largest Dutch exile publishing house, Querido. He wrote four more novels before being held in several internment French camps during 1939 as "a hostile foreigner" and then fled to the U.S. the following year. There he lived primarily in New York serving (along with Thomas Mann) from 1940 until 1942 as an honorary advisor to the Emergency Rescue Committee, which sought to help German writers and other creative artists escape from the Gestapo. He did not resume writing novels until 1947 and wrote only 5 thereafter, his last being in 1972. Kesten became a U.S. citizen in 1949, but frequently visited Europe, becoming a member of the Academy of the Sciences and Literature in Mainz in 1950, and a corresponding member of the German Academy for Language and Seal in Darmstadt. In 1953, he settled in Rome where he remained until 1977, but served as president of the Federal Republic of Germany's PEN, an international writers union, from 1972 until 1976. Following his wife's death, he relocated to a Jewish retirement home in Basel, Switzerland. A prolific writer, Kesten wrote 14 novels, 4 short story collections, 6 plays, a book of poetry and numerous essays and contributions to journals. He received honorary doctorates from University of attaining Nuremberg and University of Berlin.

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