After the war, Litvinoff worked briefly as a ghost writer, before going on to produce novels of his own, starting with The Lost Europeans (1960), set in post-war Berlin, and also various plays for television including some for the ITV series Armchair Theatre. His memory of the Whitechapel ghetto of his childhood had been transformed by the Nazi genocide and, in the post-war decades, Litvinoff would devote much of his energy to campaigning against racism. In his poem To T.S. Eliot (1951), he famously challenged the great Anglo-American poet for reprinting anti-semitic lines, written before the Holocaust, in a new selection of his poems. Alarmed by what he saw when visiting Moscow with a British fashion delegation in 1956, Litvinoff helped to initiate the movement to counter anti-semitism in the Soviet Union. For many years he was editor of Jews in Eastern Europe, the UK journal of that campaign, and he was also a leading witness in the Paris Trial of 1973, in which the Soviet Embassy was successfully sued for racial libel, having published a scandalously anti-semitic article.  Having edited The Penguin Book of Jewish Short Stories (1979), Litvinoff published his last novel, Falls the Shadow, in 1983. Written at the time of the Sabra and Shatila massacres in Lebanon, it questioned Israeli policy towards Palestinians.  Since his retirement, Emanuel Litvinoff has lived quietly in Bloomsbury.


Emanuel Litvinoff was born to Russian Jewish immigrant parents in Whitechapel in 1915.  The second of nine children (and the brother of the writer Barnet Litvinoff), he left school at 14 and, after working in a number of unskilled jobs, found himself down and out within a year. Drifting through Soho and Fitzrovia in the Depression, he wrote since destroyed hallucinatory texts, and survived on his wits. After enlisting in the army in January 1940, he served in Northern Ireland, West Africa and the Middle East.  He quickly rose through the ranks to become a Major at the age of 27. While in the army, Litvinoff started to publish his poetry in the Routledge anthology Poems from the Forces (1941). Conscripts: a Symphonic Declaration appeared that same year, and his first collection, The Untried Soldier, followed in 1942.  The poems in A Crown for Cain (1948) were written between 1942 and 1946, mostly in West Africa and Egypt.