Anzia Yezierska was born in the 1880s in Maly Plock to Bernard and Pearl Yezierski. Her family emigrated to America around 1890, following in the footsteps of her eldest brother Meyer, who arrived to the States six years prior. They took up housing in the Lower East Side, Manhattan. Her family assumed the surname Mayer, while Anzia took Harriet (or Hattie) as her first name. She later reclaimed her original name, Anzia Yezierska, in her late twenties. Her father was a scholar of sacred texts.
Anzia Yezierska's parents encouraged her brothers to pursue a higher education.
In 1910 she fell in love with Arnold Levitas, but instead married his friend Jacob Gordon, a New York Attorney. After 6 months the marriage was annulled. Shortly after, she married Arnold Levitas in a religious ceremony to avoid legal complications. Arnold was the father of her first and only child, Louise Levitas Henriksen, born May 29, 1912. Around 1914 she left Arnold and moved to San Francisco with her daughter where she was employed as a social worker. However, she later gave up her paternal rights for Louise to Arnold because she was overwhelmed with the chores and responsibilities of raising her daughter. She then moved back to New York City. Around 1917, she engaged in a romantic relationship with Philosopher John Dewey, a professor at Columbia University.
After achieving her goal of becoming an independent woman, her sister influenced her to begin writing. She devoted the remainder of her life to writing.
Yezierska was the aunt of American film critic Cecelia Ager and the great aunt of Ager's daughter, journalist Shana Alexander.
Anzia Yezierska died November 21, 1970 of a stroke in a nursing home in Ontario, California.
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