Meyer Levin

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Meyer Levin (October 7, 1905 – July 9, 1981) was an American novelist. Perhaps best known for his work on the Leopold and Loeb case, Levin worked as a journalist (for the Chicago Daily News and, from 1933–39, as an editor for Esquire).


Levin published six novels before World War II. Though critical response was good, none were successful financially. Reporter (1929) was a novel of the modern newspapers, Frankie and Johnny (1930) an urban romance, Yehuda (1931) takes place on a kibbutz, and The New Bridge (1933) dealt with unemployed construction workers at the beginning of the Depression. In 1937, Levin published The Old Bunch, a story of immigrant Chicago Jewry that James T. Farrell called "one of the most serious and ambitious novels yet produced by the current generation of American novelists."[1] Citizens (1940) was a fictional account of the 1937 strike at the Republic Steel Company plant outside Chicago.

After the war, Levin wrote, with the approval of the Frank Family, a play based on The Diary of Anne Frank, but his play was not produced. Instead a version of the same story dramatized by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett reached Broadway. Levin sued for plagiarism.[2]

Meyer wrote the 1956 novel Compulsion, inspired by the Leopold and Loeb case. The novel, for which Levin was given a Special Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America in 1957, was the basis for Levin's own 1957 play adaptation and the 1959 film based on it, starring Orson Welles.[3] Compulsion was "the first 'documentary' or 'non-fiction novel' ("a style later used in Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song").[4]



Autobiographical works[edit]


  • Beginnings in Jewish Philosophy
  • The Story of Israel
  • An Israel Haggadah for Passover
  • The Story of the Synagogue
  • The Story of the Jewish Way of Life

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Saturday Review of Literature, 13 March 1937
  2. ^ An Obsession with Anne Frank Meyer Levin and the Diary Lawrence Graver UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS Berkeley · Los Angeles · Oxford © 1997 The Regents of the University of California
  3. ^ Jake Hinkson (October 19, 2012). "Leopold and Loeb Still Fascinate 90 Years Later". Retrieved October 23, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Meyer Levin's Compulsion": article by Steve Powell in "The Venetian Vase of September 21, 2012

External links[edit]