Back Then: Two Literary Lives in 1950s New York

Overview

Novelist Anne Bernays and biographer Justin Kaplan -- both native New Yorkers -- came of age in the 1950s, when the pent-up energies of the Depression years and World War II were at flood tide. Written in two separate voices, Back Then is thecandid, anecdotal account of these two children of privilege -- one from New York's East Side, the other from the West Side -- pursuing careers in publishing and eventually leaving to write their own books.

Infused with intelligence and ...

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Overview

Novelist Anne Bernays and biographer Justin Kaplan -- both native New Yorkers -- came of age in the 1950s, when the pent-up energies of the Depression years and World War II were at flood tide. Written in two separate voices, Back Then is thecandid, anecdotal account of these two children of privilege -- one from New York's East Side, the other from the West Side -- pursuing careers in publishing and eventually leaving to write their own books.

Infused with intelligence and charm, Back Then is an elegant reflection on the transformative years in the lives of two young people and New York City. Marked by their youthful passions, this double memoir marries the authors' distinct literary styles with a riveting narrative that captures the density and texture of private, social, and working life in the 1950s.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060958053
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/8/2003
  • Series: Harper Perennial
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Bernays

Anne Bernays, a novelist and writing teacher, is the author of eight novels, including Professor Romeo and Growing Up Rich, as well as two works of nonfiction, including The Language of Names written with Justin Kaplan and What If? written with Pamela Painter. Her articles and essays have appeared in numerous major publications, among them The Nation, the New York Times, Town & Country, and Sports Illustrated. She lives in Cambridge and Truro, Massachusetts with her husband, Justin Kaplan. They have three daughters and six grandchildren.

Justin Kaplan is also the author of Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. He is general editor of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is married to the novelist Anne Bernays. They have three daughters and six grandchildren, and live in Cambridge and Truro, Massachusetts.

Biography

Anne Bernays is a novelist (including Professor Romeo and Growing Up Rich) and coauthor, with her husband, Justin Kaplan, of Back Then: Two Lives in 1950s New York. Her articles, book reviews and essays have appeared in such major publications as The New York Times, Sports Illustrated and The Nation. A longtime teacher of writing, she is coauthor, with Pamela Painter, of the textbook What If? Ms. Bernays currently teaches at Harvard's Nieman Foundation. She and Mr. Kaplan have six grandchildren. They live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Truro, Cape Cod.

Author biography courtesy of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Good To Know

Some fun and fascinating out takes from our interview with Bernays:

"I've written a memoir, Back Then, which has a lot of dicey stuff in it. And it's a good read! I'm fixated on how things work and how groups of people work with and against each other. I'm also a passionate liberal, and am convinced that this administration is so business-oriented that it's forgotten to serve the people who elected it. I'm a lifelong Democrat and have voted in every election since 1952."

"We have three daughters, five grandsons and one granddaughter. I think about them all the time. They have pet names for me. I don't see them nearly enough."

"Justin and I play word games at breakfast. I'm a demon walker and walk about ten miles – briskly -- a week. We have two dogs, Pansy and Daisy, who seem to occupy more time and emotional space than they ought to."

"Justin and I love to travel. We go on these ‘educational' trips, where Harvard professors tell you what you're going to see or what you have just seen."

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    1. Hometown:
      Cambridge, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 14, 1930
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      Wellesley College, 1948-1950; B A., Barnard College, 1952

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