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Anita Brenner (13 August 1905–1 December 1974), an author of children's literature and books on Mexican art and history, was born in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Her father, a Jewish emigrant to Mexico from Latvia, moved his family back and forth from Mexico to Texas during the revolution. In 1916 the family settled in San Antonio, Texas.
She returned to Mexico around the age of 18. After four years in Mexico City, she left for Columbia University in 1927. At Columbia she aroused the ire of the influential Diana Trilling who resented what she perceived as the disproportionate attention Brenner was given. She remained in New York City for 17 years, returning to Mexico City in 1940, where she lived until her death thirty-four years later.
Brenner had been educated in the United States for over a dozen years, but the Mexican Revolution shaped her thinking. She came to believe that the Revolution had been bound to happen due to the way the land-owners and politicians were running the country.
She wrote several books, but Idols behind Altars (her first book) and The Wind That Swept Mexico were the most influential and acclaimed. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for "Fine Arts Research" in 1930 and 1931. Anita Brenner regarded this period of her life as "The Mexican Renaissance". She wrote about such artists as David Siqueiros, José Orozco, Diego Rivera, Francisco Goitia, Jean Charlot, and others; many or most of whom she knew personally.
In 1955, Brenner established a monthly publication, Mexico/This Month. Her familiarity with both sides of the border gave her the expertise to make Mexico known to an English-speaking public. When the Mexican government awarded her the Aztec Eagle, the highest honor Mexico can award a non-national, she refused it, on the grounds that she was Mexican. She did accept a citation as a distinguished tourism pioneer awarded by former president Miguel Alemán Valdés in 1967.
Brenner married David Glusker, but her first priority was always to her work. Brenner was survived by two children, her daughter, Susannah Joel Glusker, who teaches at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, and Peter Glusker, a physician with a medical practice in Fort Bragg, California.
She died in Aguascalientes, her place of birth, in an automobile accident in 1974, aged 69.
Anita Brenner: A Mind of Her Own
- Portal de Gobierno del Estado de Aguascalientes. "Anita Brenner (1905 - 1974)" (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- Brenner biodata
- Anita Brenner: A Mind of Her Own
- Anita Brenner Collection at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin
- Documents on Anita Brenner in the ICAA Documents Project at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston