Samuel Benjamin Helbert Judah

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Samuel Benjamin Helbert Judah along with Isaac Harby, Mordecai Manuel Noah and Jonas Phillips was one of the few American Jews to achieve literary fame in the early nineteenth century.

He was born in New York, the eldest child born of Eliza Israel and merchant Benjamin S. Judah. It was at the young age of sixteen that Samuel experienced his first success, with the publication and performance of his play The Mountain Torrent. This was followed by a revenge melodrama, The Rose of Aragon in 1822. That same year saw the performance of patriotic historical drama, A Tale of Lexington, which Samuel said he had written in four days. With his Gotham and the Gothamites the following year, Samuel’s career as a playwright came to an abrupt end. A satire of New York society, the play took aim at nearly a hundred prominent New Yorkers including Mordecai Manuel Noah. He was sued for libel, and he and his publisher were arrested and served time when they were unable to pay the imposed fine.

Upon his release, Samuel worked as an attorney. However, he continued to write, publishing much of his later work under the pen name Terentius Phlogobombus. He wrote the never performed biblical play The Maid of Midian, a collection of poetry, Odofriede, and a novel, The Buccaneers.

Samuel Benjamin Helbert Judah

1865 – 1870