Kressmann Taylor’s Address Unknown has an extraordinary history for an international bestseller, and now it will be further enhanced as it takes to the stage.
Originally published in the USA in 1938, Katherine Kressmann Taylor’s Address Unknown became an immediate bestseller. The subject of the book being inappropriate for a woman to be writing about at the time, her publishers dropped her first name and the book was published under her masculine sounding family name, Kressmann Taylor. Unsurprisingly the book was banned in Germany, and Taylor found herself on Hitler’s death list for daring to write such a book.
With the onset of war European publishing was a lost opportunity, and it wasn’t until recently that the book was rediscovered for the classic that it is. In 1995 it was reissued in the USA for the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps, garnering rave reviews again:
“[b]etter just to call it a masterpiece … remarkable power and economy … a reminder that important messages come in small envelopes.” – TIME Magazine
“[t]his modern story is perfection itself. It is the most effective indictment of Nazism to appear in fiction.” – The New York Times Book Review
“[a] tale already known and profoundly appreciated by members of my generation. It is to our part in World War II what ‘Uncle Toms Cabin’s’ was to the Civil War.” – Kurt Vonnegut
Here in the UK we at Souvenir Press rediscovered it in 2002 and have already reprinted it thirteen times to an equally enthusiastic press:
“[t]his simple but profound work reminds us just how cowardly other story writers have been … ‘Address Unknown’ remains one of the most significant, innovative and genuinely engaged fictions about the Nazi era.” – The New Statesman
“spend three-quarters of an hour with it and you’ll be jabbing all comers with the injunction: “Read!”” – The Guardian
“celebrate[s] the power of words to name, accuse and condemn human evil. Taylor’s book is a rare example of fiction that has made a political difference.” – The Times
Previously it has been broadcast by the BBC as an Afternoon Play with Henry Goodman and Patrick Malahide and also at festivals including one in London starring Andrew Sachs and Henry Goodman. Now the pioneering Soho Theatre in the West End of London is simultaneously staging (in early/mid-June) the French adaptation, bringing over its film star participants Christian Clavier (Les Visiteurs, Astérix & Obélix: Mission Cléopâtre), and Thierry Lhermitte (An American Werewolf in Paris, Les Papas du dimanche, Le noir (te) vous va si bien; and an English version with Jonathan Cullen and Simon Kunz, both directed by Steve Marmion, Soho Theatre’s Artistic Director.
This “timeless tale of friendship and betrayal” will run from 13th June to 27th July, with the French performances running between 13th June and 22nd June.
Want to book tickets? Check out the Soho Theatre website for more information, ticket pricing and booking.
Want to read the book before you see the play? Find out more on the Souvenir Press website, or order a copy in hardback or e-book.
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