Adah Isaacs Menken was a writer, lecturer, and actress whose infamous private life brought widespread attention to her acting career. Born near New Orleans, most likely of African American, white, and Creole heritage, Adah Isaacs married affluent businessman Alexander Isaac Menken when she was around 21 and adopted his faith, Judaism. In 1856, Menken began a successful and lucrative acting career in New Orleans. While she was well known for her dramatic roles, Menken longed for literary recognition. Her poetry condemns male domination and its effects on creative women, and celebrates Judaism and women’s lives. She died of tuberculosis in her early 30s in Paris.
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