Perennial columnist for The New Yorker magazine, Janet Flanner (1892-1978) produced trenchant commentary on European politics and culture. In her mid twenties, Flanner left the United States for Paris, quickly becoming part of the group of American writers and artists who lived in the city between the world wars. In October 1925 Flanner published her first "Letter from Paris" in the then brand-new magazine, The New Yorker, launching a professional association destined to last for five decades.
Flanner's work during World War II included not only her famous "Letter from Paris" (disrupted for a period) and seminal pieces on Hitler's rise (1936) and the Nuremburg trials (1945), but a series of little-known weekly radio broadcasts for the NBC Blue Network during the months following the liberation of Paris in late 1944.
Like fellow American expatriate Therese Bonney, Indiana-born Flanner was deeply disturbed by the war's implications for the future of European civilization. In both her private correspondence and New Yorker column, Flanner often expressed concern over the long-term damage to Europe, noting with despair that "with the material destruction collapsed invisible things that lived within it. . . ."
A master of the printed word, Flanner was less in her element when she crossed the line into broadcast journalism. The need to pursue stories aggressively to justify precious airtime was unsettling to a writer accustomed to mulling over the "big picture." The ten-minute weekly broadcasts from locations throughout Europe filled Flanner with such anxiety that she relinquished her radio assignment with relief at the end of the war.
Young German Women Under Hitler
Janet Flanner, The Generation That Knows Nothing Else," Woman's Home Companion, September 1939, pp.16-17.
Correspondent for The New Yorker
Flanner's New Yorker contract, November 1, 1944 (page one) (page two).
A Home at the Hotel Saint-Germain-des-Prés
[Flanner's room], c. 1925. Janet Flanner Collection. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (64)
At the Pétain Trial, 1945
[Janet Flanner], 1945. Janet Flanner Collection. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (65) LC-USZ6-2183
Inmates' Account of Concentration Camp
[Report on the concentration camp at Buchenwald], April 1945, Janet Flanner Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (66)
Flanner's Only Novel
Janet Flanner, Cubical City, New York and London: George Putnam's Sons, 1926. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (126)