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Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Authors

Mirra Ginsburg

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Last Updated: Rhondak101

Mirra Ginsburg

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Full Name: Mirra Ginsburg
Born: June 10, 1909
Bobruisk, Minsk Governorate, Russian Empire
Died: December 26, 2000
Occupation: Writer


Mirra Ginsburg, translator, editor, storyteller, linguist and prolific author of books for children, was born in Bobruysk (Byelorussia) on June 10, 1909, the daughter of Joseph and Bronia (Geier) Ginsburg. She was imaginative and solitary as a child, an avid reader, interested in everything, traits which defined her throughout her long life. Her parents were poor but always concerned with political and cultural matters and Mirra, who was especially close to them, absorbed this early intellectual heritage as well.

The family eventually left Russia, living in Latvia and Canada before settling in the United States. In Russia, Ginsburg had written stories. As she learned English, in Canada as a child and later in the U.S., she began to write again. But to earn a living, she embarked on a career translating Russian literature, including classics and avant-garde writers. Although offered employment as a full-time translator in various organizations, working 09:00-5:00, she preferred the independence of literary translation and often decided what she would translate on issues of principle. She won critical praise for her work on adult novels, stories, anthologies and plays, among them the Master and Margarita (1967) by Mikhail Bulgakov and We (1972) by Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin, important examples of twentieth century Russian literature. Some of her other translations, which often included introductory essays and explanations of the works in the context of Soviet history, were Azef by Roman Goul, A History of Soviet Literature by Vera Alexandrova, The Diary of Nina Kosterina (1968), Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground, as well as additional works by Bulgakov, I. B. Singer, Isaac Babel and Mikhail Mikhaylovich Zoshchenko. In 1965, she began editing and translating anthologies, especially in the Russian science fiction genre.

However, Ginsburg's most outstanding contribution to the field of literature can be found in her work for a younger audience. Drawing on her love and wide knowledge of folklore, she set about editing, adapting and translating into English both Russian folktales and those of other peoples. She once described folk literature as "among the purest and most profound creations humans have been capable of" and many of her children's works were adapted from or inspired by such tales, poems and songs. Her picture books for small children are often illustrated by noted artists and her best work has a universal appeal, tapping into basic mythological motifs which render them emotionally appealing to readers of any age.

Works in the WWEnd Database

 Non Series Works