Jerzy Kosiński - Novelists, Family and Family

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Jerzy Kosiński's Personal Details

Jerry Kosinski has earned international acclaim for his works ‘The Painted Bird’, an autobiographical account and ‘Being There’ a political satire

InformationDetail
BirthdayJune 14, 1933
Died onMay 3, 1991
NationalityAmerican
FamousHolocaust Survivors, Writers, Novelists
SpousesKatherina von Fraunhofer, Mary Hayward Weir
Known asJózef Lewinkopf
Universities
  • 1955 - University of Łódź
Cause of deathSuicide
Birth PlaceŁódź, Poland
ReligionJudaism
GenderMale
Sun SignGemini
Born inŁódź, Poland
Famous asNovelist
Died at Age57

// Famous Holocaust Survivors

Jerzy Kosiński's photo

Who is Jerzy Kosiński?

Jerzy Kosinski was a Polish novelist who emigrated to the United States after escaping Nazi persecution in Poland. He survived the Holocaust by masquerading as a Catholic in central Poland. His novel, ‘The Painted Bird’ was a supposed autobiographical account of his double life. This novel was steeped in controversy, as critics claimed it was more of a work of fiction than an autobiography. Scholars also believed Kosinski was not capable of writing a novel in English at this time, which resulted in plagiarism accusations. Despite these accusations Kosinski went on to be a highly successful novelist. He received grants from institutions such as ‘Harvard’, ‘Yale’, and the prestigious ‘Guggenheim Fellowship’, that allowed him to complete his most significant work. His novel ‘Being There’ was a political satire novel critiquing the manipulation of the media for political motives. This novel solidified his place in the literary canon as one of history's great authors. He went on to write 6 more novels and make various T.V. appearances until he tragically took his life. To know more about the life and works of Jerzy Kosinski read on the following biography

// Famous Writers

Childhood & Early Life:

On June 14, 1933, this prolific novelist was born in Lodz, Poland. He was christened JozefLewinkopf on birth. He adapted the identity Jerzy Kosinski to escape Nazi persecution during the World War II.

He and his family survived in central Poland thanks to the help of a Catholic priest. They attended weekly sermons and Kosinski even performed the duties of an altar boy.He was given a baptismal certificate and hid in plain sight as a Catholic.

When the war ended, he moved to Jelenia Gora with his family. In 1955 he graduated with two degrees in History and Sociology from the ‘University of Lodz’.

Career

After college, Kosinski spent time in the Polish army as a sharpshooter. He also taught at the ‘Polish Academy of Sciences’ as an associate professor.

In 1957 he left Poland for the United States. In order to leave Poland he had to create a fake foundation. He also promised his return to Poland, a requirement at the time, through forged letters from Communist officials.

His life in the United States started from humble beginnings. He got by working jobs he was overqualified for, such as driving delivery trucks.

Kosinski became an American citizen after residing seven years in the country, in 1965. Shortly after, he managed to graduate from the prestigious ‘Columbia University’.

Also in 1965, Kosinski began his career as a novelist with the publication of his first book, ‘The Painted Bird’. This book was a supposed autobiographical account of his experiences, hiding from Nazis and Polish authorities by adapting Catholicism.

In the book, the main character suffers much abuse. This suffering raised concerns from the thencommunist Polish government, and they accused Kosinski of being anti-Polish.

In 1968, the book was banned in Poland. This ban remained until the fall of Communism two decades later. Despite receiving its share of criticism, the book found a champion in noted author and Holocaust survivor, Ellie Wiesel.

Critics of the novel claimed Kosinski's novel was complete fiction. They said he only claimed it to be autobiographical to profit from the Holocaust. Others claim the book was a product of plagiarism.

His second novel, ‘Steps’ hit shelves in 1968. It was considered a pinnacle of surrealist fiction and received the ‘U.S. National Book Award for Fiction’.

His third novel, ‘Being There’, was published in 1971. This political satire on the role of media in America was Kosinski's most significant work.

Kosinski went on to publish 6 more novels from 1975-1988. They are: ‘The Devil Tree’, ‘Cockpit’, ‘Blind Date’, ‘Passion Play’, ‘Pinball’, and‘The Hermit of 69th St.’

Major Works

Kosinski's 1965 novel, ‘The Painted Bird’, was significant because of its first-hand account of the horrors of the holocaust. It is widely known for its role in the plagiarism

The most significant work of his career was his political satire novel, ‘Being There’. It became a movie in 1979 and was nominated for an Academy Award.

Awards & Achievements

Jerzy Kosinski won a grant from the ‘Guggenheim Fellowship in 1967 and he won another grant from the ‘Ford Foundation’a year later.

He was conferred upon an ‘Award for Literature’ from the ‘American Academy of Arts and Letters’, in 1970.

His novels have sold over 70 million copies in 30 languages, and have featured in the ‘New York Times Best Seller’ list.

Personal Life & Legacy

Jerzy Kosinski married Mary Hayward Weir in 1962. His marriage to the American steel heiress ended after 4 years. He was left out of her will when she died of cancer, shortly after the divorce.

After separating from his first wife, he exchanged nuptial vows with Katherine Von Fraunhofer, a member of Bavarian nobility.

Kosinski tragically ended his own life on May 3, 1991. His death was the result of a drug and alcohol overdose.

Trivia

Many scholars believe this prolific writer didn't have enough of a grasp on the English language to write ‘The Painted Bird’.

This famous personality narrowly missed being at Sharon Tate's house during the infamous Manson murders. He and his wife were late due to lost luggage.

This famous novelist’s book, ‘Pinball’, is dedicated to his longtime friend George Harrison.

// Famous Novelists

Jerzy Kosiński awards

YearNameAward

Other

BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay - 1981
Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Comedy - 1980
National Book Award for Fiction - 1969
Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts
US & Canada - 1967

Jerzy Kosiński biography timelines

  • // 14th Jun 1933
    On June 14, 1933, this prolific novelist was born in Lodz, Poland. He was christened JozefLewinkopf on birth. He adapted the identity Jerzy Kosinski to escape Nazi persecution during the World War II.
  • // 1955
    When the war ended, he moved to Jelenia Gora with his family. In 1955 he graduated with two degrees in History and Sociology from the ‘University of Lodz’.
  • // 1957
    In 1957 he left Poland for the United States. In order to leave Poland he had to create a fake foundation. He also promised his return to Poland, a requirement at the time, through forged letters from Communist officials.
  • // 1962
    Jerzy Kosinski married Mary Hayward Weir in 1962. His marriage to the American steel heiress ended after 4 years. He was left out of her will when she died of cancer, shortly after the divorce.
  • // 1965
    Kosinski became an American citizen after residing seven years in the country, in 1965. Shortly after, he managed to graduate from the prestigious ‘Columbia University’.
  • // 1965
    Also in 1965, Kosinski began his career as a novelist with the publication of his first book, ‘The Painted Bird’. This book was a supposed autobiographical account of his experiences, hiding from Nazis and Polish authorities by adapting Catholicism.
  • // 1965
    Kosinski's 1965 novel, ‘The Painted Bird’, was significant because of its first-hand account of the horrors of the holocaust. It is widely known for its role in the plagiarism
  • // 1967
    Jerzy Kosinski won a grant from the ‘Guggenheim Fellowship in 1967 and he won another grant from the ‘Ford Foundation’a year later.
  • // 1968
    In 1968, the book was banned in Poland. This ban remained until the fall of Communism two decades later. Despite receiving its share of criticism, the book found a champion in noted author and Holocaust survivor, Ellie Wiesel.
  • // 1968
    His second novel, ‘Steps’ hit shelves in 1968. It was considered a pinnacle of surrealist fiction and received the ‘U.S. National Book Award for Fiction’.
  • // 1970
    He was conferred upon an ‘Award for Literature’ from the ‘American Academy of Arts and Letters’, in 1970.
  • // 1971
    His third novel, ‘Being There’, was published in 1971. This political satire on the role of media in America was Kosinski's most significant work.
  • // 1975 To 1988
    Kosinski went on to publish 6 more novels from 1975-1988. They are: ‘The Devil Tree’, ‘Cockpit’, ‘Blind Date’, ‘Passion Play’, ‘Pinball’, and‘The Hermit of 69th St.’
  • // 1979
    The most significant work of his career was his political satire novel, ‘Being There’. It became a movie in 1979 and was nominated for an Academy Award.
  • // 3rd May 1991
    Kosinski tragically ended his own life on May 3, 1991. His death was the result of a drug and alcohol overdose.

// Famous People Who Died of Suicide

Jerzy Kosiński's FAQ

  • What is Jerzy Kosiński birthday?

    Jerzy Kosiński was born at 1933-06-14

  • When was Jerzy Kosiński died?

    Jerzy Kosiński was died at 1991-05-03

  • Where was Jerzy Kosiński died?

    Jerzy Kosiński was died in Manhattan

  • Which age was Jerzy Kosiński died?

    Jerzy Kosiński was died at age 57

  • Where is Jerzy Kosiński's birth place?

    Jerzy Kosiński was born in Łódź, Poland

  • What is Jerzy Kosiński nationalities?

    Jerzy Kosiński's nationalities is American

  • Who is Jerzy Kosiński spouses?

    Jerzy Kosiński's spouses is Katherina von Fraunhofer, Mary Hayward Weir

  • What was Jerzy Kosiński universities?

    Jerzy Kosiński studied at 1955 - University of Łódź

  • What is Jerzy Kosiński's cause of dead?

    Jerzy Kosiński dead because of Suicide

  • What is Jerzy Kosiński's religion?

    Jerzy Kosiński's religion is Judaism

  • What is Jerzy Kosiński's sun sign?

    Jerzy Kosiński is Gemini

  • How famous is Jerzy Kosiński?

    Jerzy Kosiński is famouse as Novelist