Irwin Shapiro (writer)

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Irwin Shapiro
Died1981 (aged 69–70)
Years active1938–1979
EmployerGolden Books
SpouseEdna Richter

Irwin Shapiro (1911–1981) was an American writer and translator of over 40 books, mostly for children and about Americana.


Irwin Shapiro was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[1] Little is known of his background or upbringing. His family probably came from what is now Hungary, since his first published books in the late 1930s are translations from Hungarian.

Shapiro studied at the Art Students League in New York City, where he is known to have taken at least one class under Thomas Hart Benton with fellow student Esther Shemitz (who later married Whittaker Chambers). During the Great Depression, he held odd jobs.[1]

Shapiro married Edna Richter.[1] She worked in the Works Progress Administration (WPA),[1] in which she was also "an active member of the American Federation of Government Employees Union."[2] According to Shapiro's son, husband and wife were "both deep in the Party." Edna Richter was Moscow correspondent for the Daily Worker newspaper. With events like the trials of the Great Purge and the Hitler-Stalin Pact, "my parents saw the truth, thanks to Stalin."[1]

(Shapiro's brother-in-law, Irving Richter, worked with the United Auto Workers (UAW) and lived much of his life in Detroit. He appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1956, at which time Edna Richter's name and work at the WPA was mentioned.[2])

Shapiro and his wife moved to Florida, where he died in 1981.[1]


After an initial foray into writing radical literature that encompassed his last year as a communist, Shapiro turned to children's books, which he published for the vast majority of his career (1938–1979). He published many titles for Golden Books. Among them is The Gremlins of Liet. Oggins, which author Andrew Meier suspects was really a coded message about the imprisonment of American spy Isaiah Oggins in the GULAG under Stalin."[1] He also adapted a number of works of classic literature into comic book form (illustrated by artists) for Pendulum Press in 1973–1974. The Library of Congress holds 44 titles in his name.



  • Prelude to Love by Jolán Földes, translated from Hungarian by Alexander G. Kenedi and Irwin Shapiro (1938)
  • Egyptian Interlude by Jolán Földes, translated from Hungarian by Irwin Shapiro (1939)



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Meier, Andrew (August 11, 2008). The Lost Spy: An American in Stalin's Secret Service. W. W. Norton. pp. 257–260). ISBN 978-0-393-06097-3.
  2. ^ a b "Investigation of Communist infiltration of Government. Hearing (1956)". Retrieved September 10, 2011.

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