Skip to main content

Josephson, Matthew, 1899-1978



  • Existence: 1899 - 1978


Matthew Josephson, author of works on nineteenth-century French literature and twentieth-century American economic history, was born on February 15, 1899, in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from Columbia University and married Hannah Geffen in 1920. Shortly thereafter they left New York for Paris to become part of the group of American "expatriates" there.

Initially Josephson wrote poetry, published in Galimathias (1923), and reported for various "little magazines." He became associate editor of Broom (1922-24) and contributing editor of Transition (1928-29). Josephson was also a regular contributor to the New Republic, The Nation, The New Yorker, and the Saturday Evening Post.

Josephson's first biographies were Zola and His Time (1928) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1932). Deeply influenced by his neighbor Charles A. Beard, and the Depression, and with only one major exception, Stendhal:or the Pursuit of Happiness (1946), Josephson changed his focus of interest from literature to economic history when he published The Robber Barons in 1934. The Robber Barons was followed by many more full-length works in which Josephson served as a spokesman for many intellectuals of his generation who were dissatisfied with the social and political status quo.

Josephson wrote two memoirs, Life Among the Surrealists (1962) and, Infidel in the Temple (1967).

Hannah Josephson, librarian of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and an author in her own right, worked closely with her husband on various projects throughout their careers. In 1945 she and Malcolm Cowley edited Aragon,Poet of the Resistance. Matthew and Hannah Josephson collaborated on AlSmith: Hero of the Cities in 1969. They had two sons, Eric and Carl. Hannah died in 1976 and Matthew died March 15, 1978.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Hart Crane Collection

Call Number: YCAL MSS 37

Hart Crane Collection consists of correspondence to, from, and about Crane, copies of Crane's poetry and prose, articles about Crane, and material on Crane's work in art and advertising.

Dates: 1910-1972

Matthew Josephson papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 26

The papers contain correspondence, journals, subject files, and writings that document Josephson's life and provide information on the subjects of his research.

Dates: 1917-1979 (inclusive)

James Rorty papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 835
Abstract: Manuscripts, printed works, correspondence, and professional papers of the writer James Rorty. The Writings series includes Rorty's typescript and manuscript essays on social issues, civil rights, and political activism, two of his poems, and printed works. The Correspondence series includes three typed letters between Rorty's wife Winifred Rorty and Matthew Josephson; letters between Rorty and Jerré E. Tanner regarding Tanner's setting of Rorty's poem "A Spring Garland" for voice and...
Dates: 1941-1970

Additional filters

American poetry -- 20th Century 2
Advertising copy 1
American literature -- 20th century 1
Anti-communist movements -- United States 1
Art and industry 1