The frankaus of London: A study in radical assimilation, 1837–1967

  • Todd M. Endelman


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  1. 1.
    See, for example, Marsha L. Rozenblit,The Jews of Vienna, 1867–1914: Assimilation and Identity (Albany, 1983), chap. 6; Todd M. Endelman, ed.,Jewish Apostasy in the Modern World (New York, 1987); Deborah Hertz,Jewish High Society in Old Regime Berlin (New Haven, 1988), chap. 7; Jonathan I. Helfand, “Passports and Piety: Apostasy in Nineteenth-Century France,”Jewish History, 3:2 (Fall 1988): 59–83; Peter Honigmann,Die Austritte aus der Jüdischen Gemeinde Berlin, 1873–1941 (Frankfurt a. Main, 1988); idem, “Die Austritte aus dem Judentum in Wien, 1868–1944,”Zeitgeschichte 15 (1988): 452–66; idem, “Jewish Conversions — A Measure of Assimilation? A Discussion of the Berlin Secession Statistics of 1770–1941,”Leo Baeck Institute Year Book 34 (1989): 3–39; Todd M. Endelman,Radical Assimilation in English Jewish History, 1656–1945 (Bloomington, IN, 1990).Google Scholar
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  3. 3.
    In 1837, the year in which Joseph Frankau migrated to London, there were 270 Jews in Diespeck, about one-third of the village population. In 1867, there were only 117 Jews, migration having taken its toll in the intervening thirty years.Pinkas ha-kehillot: entsiyklopediyah shel ha-yishuvim ha-yehudiyyim le-min hivasdam ve-ad le-ahar shoat milhemet ha-olam ha-sheniyyah — Germanyah — Bavaryah [Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities from their Foundation till after the Holocaust of World War II — Germany — Bavaria], ed. Baruch Zvi Ophir (Jerusalem, 1972), 319.Google Scholar
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  5. 5.
    1841 census, HO 107/716/8, Public Record Office, London (hereafter PRO); Alexander Dietz,Stammbuch der Frankfurter Juden: Geschichtliche Mitteilungen über der Frankfurter jüdischen Familien von 1349–1849 (Frankfurt a. Main, 1907), 101.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    The Post Office London Directory for 1844, 257–8; Vivian D. Lipman, “Jewish Settlement in the East End of London, 1840–1940: The Topographical and Statistical Background,” inThe Jewish East End, 1840–1939, ed. Aubrey Newman (London, 1981), 27.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    F. W. Fairholt,Tobacco: Its History and Associations (London, 1859), 213, 220; George L. Apperson,The Social History of Smoking (London, 1914), 137, 139, 166; Edward H. Pinto,Wooden Bygones of Smoking and Snuff Taking (London, 1961), 48–9, 56, 59.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    The Post Office London Directory for 1840, 98. In the directories for 1838 and 1839, Frankau does not appear as a partner of Friedlander. In 1837, Friedlander was doing business as Friedlander & Beyfus, importers of cigars and leeches, at the same address as in 1840.The Post Office London Directory for 1837, 210. In his autobiography, Gilbert Frankau errs in writing that the firm J. Frankau & Co. was founded by his grandfather in 1837 to import leeches from France. Gilbert Frankau,Self-Portrait: A Novel of his Own Life (London [1940]), 16. Joseph Frankau did not set up on his own initially and when he did he appears to have imported both cigars and leeches from the start.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    The Post Office London Directory for 1844, 680.Google Scholar
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  12. 12.
    1851 census, HO 107/1501/62, PRO. Joseph's and Amelia's daughter Ida was born in 1847 (Jacobi, “The Geiger Family”) in Whitechapel (according to the 1851 census, which gives incorrect ages for the three Frankau children alive at the time.) Thus, the family must have moved to Islington after her birth but before the census enumerator called in 1851.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Watkins's Commercial and General London Directory and Court Guide for 1853, 602. The other possible Jews in the street were D. N. Henriques and George Wulff.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Jewish Chronicle (hereafterJC), 18 December 1863.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Post Office London Directory for 1854, 1895;Watkins's Commercial and General London Directory and Court Guide for 1855, 1762. Joseph died in 1857 and by 1859 his widow had moved from Upper Avenue Road.Post Office London Directory for 1859, 722. I have been unable to trace Amelia's movements between 1859 and her death in 1863.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Frankau,Self-Portrait, 24; Jacobi, “The Geiger Family.”Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    1851 census, HO 107/1501/62, PRO;Post Office London Directory for 1854, 876, 1895;Watkins's Commercial and General London Directory and Court Guide for 1855, 198;Post Office London Directory for 1856, 2162B;Post Office London Directory for 1866, 1039.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Werner Hirsch of New Haven, CT, kindly provided me with information about the Frankaus in New Haven from his own research on early New Haven Jewry in city directories, synagogue archives, army records, newspapers, and other local sources. See also Rollin G. Osterweis,Three Centuries of New Haven, 1638–1938 (New Haven, 1953), 213, 217. I should point out that there is no firm evidence indicating the nature of the relationship among Adolph, Nathan, and Frederica Frankau. However, given the rarity of the family name Frankau, their common roots in Bavaria, and the close business ties among Adolph, Nathan, and Frederica's future husband, it is difficult to believe that they were not siblings.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Adolph was naturalized on 1 April 1844 at the city court in New Haven, CT. The naturalization document records his age as 21 and lists his surname as “Frankan.” Connecticut naturalization index, National Archives — New England Region, Waltham, Massachusetts. Interestingly, in the 1841 census, his brother Joseph appears as Joseph “Frankan” but in the 1843 Western Synagogue marriage register as Joseph “Frankau.” It would appear that the family name became standardized only from the late-1840s on.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Adolph Frankau & Co.,100 Years in the Service of Smokers: Adolph Frankau of London Celebrate their Centenary (London, 1947), unpaginated; Frankau family tree and biographical notes, in possession of John Howard Frankau, Cobham, Surrey; register of death of Adolph Frankau, 5 November 1856, Hampstead registration district, General Registry Office, London; 1861 census, RG 9/91/44, PRO;Post Office London Directory for 1855. Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    C. C. Aronsfeld, “German Jews in Nottingham,”AJR Information, 10:12 (December 1955), 8; William Howe Wylie,Old and New Nottingham (London, 1853), 141. On the affinity of German Jews in provincial cities for Unitarianism, see Endelman,Radical Assimilation, 121–3.Google Scholar
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    Frankau family tree and biographical notes; Adolph Frankau & Co.,100 Years in the Service of Smokers; 1861 census, RG 9/91/44, PRO; Rosslyn Hill Chapel, list of members, 1 January 1875, RNC 38.189, and minute book, 1907–1922, RNC 38.132, Dr. Williams's Library, London. Blumfeld was eventually made a partner in the firm, a position he held until 1899, when the business was converted into a limited company. He then became director and chairman.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Townsend Scudder, ed.,Letters of Jane Walsh Carlyle to Joseph Neuberg, 1848–1862 (London, 1931), v; Aronsfeld, “German Jews in Nottingham,” 8. It appears that Scudder's source was Neuberg's nephew, Frederick Joseph Frankau, who was in his late seventies when Scudder's book appeared. It cannot be mere coincidence that the introduction fails to mention that the Neubergs and the Frankaus were Jewish.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Quoted in Aronsfeld, “German Jews in Nottingham,” 8.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., 8; “Carlyle and Neuberg,”Macmillan's Magazine 50 (August 1884), 280.Google Scholar
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    Scudder,Letters of Carlyle to Neuberg, vi. After his wife's death, Neuberg unsuccessfully courted Barbara Leigh Smith (later Bodichon), a leader in the women's movement. Hester Burton,Barbara Bodichon, 1827–1891 (London, 1949), 93.Google Scholar
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    See T. Peter Park, “Thomas Carlyle and the Jews,”Journal of European Studies 20 (1990): 1–21.Google Scholar
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  41. 41.
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  50. 50.
    The novel was completed by summer 1886.JC, 30 June 1916.Google Scholar
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    Julia Frankau [Frank Danby],Dr. Phillips: A Maida Vale Idyll (London, 1887), 5, 55, 82, 168.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., 15, 148–9.Google Scholar
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    Malcolm C. Salaman, “A Personal Tribute,”JC, 24 March 1916.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Simeon Singer,The Literary Remains of the Rev. Simeon Singer, ed. Israel Abrahams, 3 vols. (London, 1908), 1:107. For further examples, see Endelman,Radical Assimilation, 93.Google Scholar
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    On the construction of Jewishness inReuben Sachs, see Bryan Cheyette, “From Apology to Revolt: Benjamin Farjeon, Amy Levy and the Post-Emancipation Anglo-Jewish Novel, 1880–1900,”TJHSE 29 (1988): 260–2. See also his pathbreaking study“Construction of The Jew” in English Literature and Society: Racial Representation, 1875–1945 (Cambridge, 1993).Google Scholar
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    Jewish Standard, 1 March 1889, 9–10. To his brief criticism, Zangwill added a satiric ballad — “Dr. Reuben Green: A Study of the Maida Vale Jewish Colony” by Amy Danby. The ballad in turn provoked controversy and forced the newspaper to articulate its attitude toward Levy and Frankau: “We are not of those who think that a Jewish writer dealing with his own people is bound to paint everything in a glowing rose colour and to give us a picture suffused with light and no shade. That would be bad art and untrue to nature. But we do object to the bipedal cuttle-fish squirting its nauseous black fluid on to clean paper and calling the result a picture. The writers of the novels referred to are not persons whose age [Levy and Frankau were both in their twenties] and experience of human life entitle their opinions to any respect. They have simply sacrificed truth to the desire of being thought smart, or, as some may think, scabrous. To take them or their effusions, compounded of ignorance and spite, seriously, would be ridiculous.”Jewish Standard, 8 March 1889, 7.Google Scholar
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    Aria,My Sentimental Self, 22, 56;JC, 30 June 1916. For Hart, see the obituaries in theJC, 14 January 1898, andThe Lancet, 15 January 1898; Stephen Lock, “Introduction,”Dr. Phillips, British Medical Association ed. (London, 1989); Peter W. J. Bartrip,Mirror of Medicine: A History of the British Medical Journal (Oxford, 1990), 63–7, 76–80; genealogical material in the Sir Thomas Colyer-Fergusson Collection, Jewish Museum, Woburn House, London. InDr. Phillips, see 28, 71, 209, 309. Marie Belloc Lowndes, an intimate friend of Julia Frankau from about 1900, wrote in her memoirs that Dr. Phillips was based on a well-known doctor and that he “must have felt the cap fitted his head, for he bought up and destroyed every copy he was able to procure.”The Merry Wives of Westminster (London, 1946), 57. This may account for the relative scarcity of copies today.Google Scholar
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    It was rumored at the time that Julia Frankau was connected withJewish Society, even that she was its nominal editor or proprietor. Hermann Adler told contemporaries that he believed that she was a front for an unknown person or persons who were opposed to his election as chief rabbi. (See the correspondence columns in theJC, 8, 15, 22 December 1916). It was even claimed that the paper ceased publication once Adler was elected (in May 1890), although, in fact, it continued to appear for another six months. (Forty-four issues were published between 31 January and 26 November 1890.) Cecil Roth repeated this rumor, as fact, inThe Jewish Chronicle, 1841–1941 (London, 1949), 161. Given the views expressed inDr. Phillips and her own uninvolvement in communal life, I find it difficult to believe that she would have become associated with a Jewish periodical, however critical of the communal establishment it was. Still, there may have been some basis to the rumors.Google Scholar
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    JC, 18 September 1931;Observer, 11 February 1923. On Wells, see Bryan Cheyette, “H. G. Wells and the Jews: Antisemitism, Socialism and English Culture,”Patterns of Prejudice 22:3 (1988), 22–35.Google Scholar
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    The Times, 12 September 1951; M. C. Bradbrook, “Queenie Leavis: The Dynamics of Rejection,”The Cambridge Review, 20 November 1981, 56–7; Aryeh Newman, “Jewish Identity: Cambridge, 1941–44,”The Cambridge Review, 25 October 1983, 176; idem, personal communication, 8 June 1983.Google Scholar
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    On anti-semitism in late-Victorian and Edwardian public schools, see Endelman,Radical Assimilation, 98–9, 138–9, 141.Google Scholar
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    The fortunes of J. Frankau & Co. and Gilbert's conduct of the firm are thinly fictionalized in his first two novels,The Woman of the Horizon (1917) andPeter Jackson, Cigar Merchant (1919). The initials of the central figure in the former novel, Francis Gordon, when reversed, are those of Gilbert Frankau. Details on the demise of the firm can be found in Gilbert's memoir. Grünbaum's two sons were not interested in business and became distinguished physicians. Albert Sidney (b. 1869), a pathologist, died before World War I. Otto Fritz (1875–1936), an authority on diabetes (the disease that killed his aunt Julia), married a Christian, changed his name from Grünbaum to Leyton in 1915, and was buried as an Anglican.The Times, 24 January 1938. Their sister, Ida Florence (b. 1879), who changed her name to Greenwood, spent two terms at Newnham College, Cambridge, and then taught at Nottinghill High School. A. B. White, ed.,Newnham College Register, 1871–1950, vol. 1, 1871–1923 (n.p., [c. 1983]), 166.Google Scholar
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    Patrick Braybrooke,Novelists: We Are Seven (London, 1926), 60, 72; Q. D. Leavis,Fiction and the Reading Public (London, 1965), 67, 197–8; Pamela Frankau,Pen to Paper: A Novelist's Notebook (London, 1961), 185–8;Punch, 17 January 1940, 82. Frankau, who hero-worshipped Rudyard Kipling and considered him “the supreme present-day craftsman” in English literature, claimed that his “main power” could be traced to the fact he “never pandered to the highbrow.” “Rudyard Kipling,”London Magazine, August 1928, in Roger Lancelyn Green, ed.,Rudyard Kipling: The Critical Heritage (London, 1971), 364.Google Scholar
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    Benjamin Braude has dubbed this phenomenon “the Heine-Disraeli syndrome.” See his “The Heine-Disraeli Syndrome among the Palgraves of Victorian England,” inJewish Apostasy in the Modern World, 108–41.Google Scholar
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    Gilbert Frankau,The Woman of the Horizon (New York, 1923), 23; idem,Peter Jackson, Cigar Merchant: A Romance of Married Life, 26th ed. (London, 1922), 103–6; idem,Life — and Erica, The Definitive Edition of Gilbert Frankau's Novels and Short Stories (London, n.d.), 87.Google Scholar
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    Sharman Kadish,Bolsheviks and British Jews: The Anglo-Jewish Community, Britain and the Russian Revolution (London, 1992), chap. 1.Google Scholar
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    E. M. Forster,Two Cheers for Democracy (London, 1951), 25;Daily Express, 9 May 1933.Google Scholar
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    Gilbert Frankau, “An Outlier from His Tribe,” inTwelve Tales (London, [1927]), 121; idem,Farewell Romance (London, 1936), 8. “An Outlier from the Tribe” was republished inYisröel: The First Jewish Omnibus, ed. Joseph Leftwich (London, 1933). See also the portrait of the fox-hunting converted Jewish millionaire Sir Albert Bandon in “One Day in the Shires,” also inTwelve Tales. Google Scholar
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    Frankau, “Outlier,” 121–2, 134–5; idem,Farewell Romance, 222, 302.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., 122, 135–7; idem,Farewell Romance, 476, 496.Google Scholar
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    Britannia, 26 October 1928, 386–7; Frankau,Self-Portrait, 262. On Jewish enthusiasm for British imperialism, see Robert A. Huttenback, “The Patrician Jew and the British Ethos in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries,”Jewish Social Studies 40 (1978), 49–62.Google Scholar
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    The Times, 9 June 1967; Pamela Frankau,I Find Four People (London, 1935), 277; idem,Pen to Paper, 202–3.Google Scholar
  95. 95.
    Pamela Frankau, AWreath for the Enemy, Virago Press ed. (London, 1988), 108–9; idem,The Winged Horse, Virago Press ed. (London, 1989), 381–2. See also the scene between the part-Jewish Sally Fisher and her Christian husband inThe Devil We Know (New York, 1939), 470–1.Google Scholar
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    Frankau,The Devil We Know, 487–8.Google Scholar
  97. 97.
    Ibid., 92.Google Scholar
  98. 98.
    Humbert Wolfe,Now a Stranger (London, 1933); idem,Upward Anguish (1938); Norman Bentwich, “Humbert Wolfe: Poet and Civil Servant,”Menorah Journal 31 (1943): 34–45; interview, Diana Raymond, 1 September 1989, Hampstead.Google Scholar
  99. 99.
    See, for example, Asher Tropp,Jews in the Professions in Great Britain, 1891–1991 (London, 1991).Google Scholar
  100. 100.
    This point is developed at length in Endelman,Radical Assimilation, chap. 4.Google Scholar
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    Woolf,Letters of Leonard Woolf, 157–8.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Haifa University Press 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Todd M. Endelman
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MichiganUSA

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