Grace Aguilar (England, 1816?1847) is considered the first Anglo-Jewish novelist. Her work was a response, in part, to the representation of Jews in Sir Walter Scott?s Ivanhoe and to Thomas Macaulay?s views on Judaism. In her short career?she died in Frankfurt at the age of thirty-one of a spinal ailment affecting her muscles and lungs?she published poetry, fiction, essays, and a history of the Jews in England. Aguilar is the author of the popular novels Home Influence: A Tale for Mothers and Daughters (1847), its sequel, A Mother?s Recompense (1851), and The Vale of Cedars; or, The Martyr (1850). Her nonfiction includes The Spirit of Judaism (1842), The Women of Israel (1845), and The Jewish Faith (1846). Her novel The Perez Family, released in 1843 by a publishing house dedicated to the edification of working-class Jews and therefore called Cheap Jewish Library, is an insider?s depiction of Jewish life in Victorian England. (The most famous slice of that life, Israel Zangwill?s Children of the Ghetto, would not appear until 1892.) Aguilar?s poems, published in journals such as The Occident, imagine the affection of Jews for the Spanish soil, and also deal with Jerusalem, the Sabbath, and the Jews in Russia. Her short story ?The Escape,? published in 1844, is set in Portugal, from which her ancestors fled to escape the Inquisition, finding refuge in England.
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