Papers of Abraham Nahum Stencl [Avrom-Nokhem Shtentsl]

Scope and Content

Papers, c 1910-1983, of Abraham Nahum Stencl [Avrom-Nokhem Shtentsl], relating to his life and work and to modern Yiddish literature, and comprising papers relating to his life, 1934-1978, including letters received from his family, photographs, press cuttings relating to his life and work, and personal documents; manuscript and printed writings, 1930-1980, in verse and prose, including some autobiographical and works on literature; papers, 1918-1983, largely dating from the 1940s and after, relating to 'Loshn un Lebn' and the Friends of Yiddish circle, other friends and acquaintances, Jewish organisations, and Stencl's involvement in literary events, comprising letters received and other papers, including works by other authors, of over 200 correspondents, some of them annotated by Stencl; ephemera, c 1910-1982, accumulated by Stencl, including postcards, membership cards, receipts, tickets, greeting cards, circulars, advertisements, and flyers.

Administrative / Biographical History

Abraham Nahum Stencl [Avrom-Nokhem Shtentsl]: born in Tsheladzh, in south-western Poland, 1897; arrived in Berlin, 1921; a leading Yiddish literary figure in Germany, he wrote expressionist poetry and associated with other literary figures including Else Lasker-Schüler (Schueler) and Thomas Mann; he was a pioneer of the modernist form in Yiddish poetry, but his themes and imagery drew on Jewish tradition; fled to Britain in the mid-1930s; following his arrival his best-known works were on Whitechapel, where he settled, and which he admired as the last Yiddish 'shtetl' [place]; edited 'Loshn un Lebn' [Language and Life], a Yiddish literary journal, for over 40 years; chaired the literarishe shábes-nokhmîtiks [literary Sunday afternoons] meetings; lived in Greatorex Road, off Whitechapel High Street; died, 1983. An annual lecture at the University of Oxford was founded in his name.


The papers are divided into the following sections: Stencl's life (1 box); Stencl's writings (6 boxes); Stencl's correspondence and papers, arranged alphabetically by author (9 boxes); and ephemera (2 boxes).

Access Information

Unrestricted access to boxes 1-18, but boxes 19-20, containing further unsorted manuscripts by Stencl, annotated 'Loshn un Lebn' proofsheets, and miscellaneous Yiddish newspapers, are unavailable for consultation.

Restrictions Apply

Acquisition Information

The papers were donated to SOAS, as part of Stencl's library, by Mrs Miriam Stencl Becker, his great-niece, in 1983.


All items are in Yiddish unless otherwise indicated. Because Abraham Nahum Stencl wrote on any piece of paper at hand, many of the manuscripts, letters and ephemera in the archive have his jottings in the margins, on the back, and even on the face of the item itself.

Other Finding Aids

A paper version of this catalogue written by Prof. Leonard Prager (25 August 1993) is also available.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for publishing extensive quotations will be referred to the donor, Miriam Becker. Apply to Archives & Special Collections, SOAS Library in the first instance.

Custodial History

Stencl's library, numbering several thousand books and periodicals, letters and other papers, which included collections passed onto him by other Yiddish literary figures, were removed from his flat in Whitechapel after his death.

Related Material

Printed material, totalling c 2,500 items, from Stencl's library, including works by major and minor Yiddish writers, Yiddish periodicals, and material relating to the wider European literary scene, is held in SOAS Library.