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Anna Gmeyner (1902–1991)

Author of Manja: The Story of Five Children

Includes the names: Anna Reiner, Anna MORDUCH

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Anna Gmeyner was born to Jewish parents in Vienna. Her father was a lawyer and she grew up in a sophisticated and intellectual household; her parents counted Sigmund Freud among their friends. After studying at the University of Vienna, in 1925 she moved to Berlin. There she married Berthold P. Wiesner, a physician who pioneered human infertility treatment. Their only child, Eva, grew up to be the children's book writer Eva Ibbotson. In 1926, the family relocated to Scotland where Dr. Wiesner worked at the University of Edinburgh. The couple separated in 1928, and Gmeyner returned alone to Berlin, where she began to write plays. Her first produced works were a children's play called The Great and Little Claus and a critically-acclaimed drama about a miners' strike in Scotland, Army Without Heroes (1929). Gmeyner witnessed first-hand the social, political and economic upheaval that presaged the rise of the Nazi regime to power in 1933. She fled Germany, where her work was later banned,and moved to Paris. There she worked in film production, working with Bertolt Brecht and writing screenplays for Roy Boulting and G.W. Pabst. In Paris, she met her second husband, Jascha Morduch, a Russian-born philosopher. As World War II approached, the couple moved to England, where Gmeyner began work on the exile literature for which she became famous. In 1938, she wrote her first novel, Manja (published in English as Five Destinies in the US, and The Wall in the UK). After Jascha Morduch died in 1950, Gmeyner began writing under the name Anna Morduch. She published biographies, religious stories, and poetry, as well as novels.
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