Jewish Lives Project

The lives of remarkable British Jews

Jewish Lives is a project telling the stories of remarkable Jewish men and women who helped to shape British society.

With support from the Kirsh Charitable Foundation, this project takes the form of a six-part book series and interactive digital platform. Each book will focus on the contributions of individual Jews to a different sector.

The first of three volumes – Arts, Public Service and Commerce – are now available with a further three – Thought, Science and Sport – to be released in the near future.

The dedicated digital platform for the project is

You can purchase these books from our museum shop and online.

Jewish Lives: Arts

Jewish Lives - arts bannerAuthored essays by Marina Fiorato, Nathan Abrams, Naomi Games, Julia Weiner and Jo Kerr.

The contribution of over 250 Jewish figures to arts and entertainment with biographies of artists, photographers, actors, directors, broadcasters, comedians, musicians, writers, songwriters and performers including:

  • Gerry Anderson – pioneering puppeteer of Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and more
  • Ruth Prawer Jhabvala – the only person ever to have won both the Booker Prize and an Oscar for writing
  • Lucian Freud – painter
  • Peter Sellers – actor and comic genius
  • Amy Winehouse – singer and songwriter

Jewish Lives: Public Service

Jewish Lives - public service banneAuthored essays by Daniel Finkelstein, Professor William D Rubinstein, Clare Mulley and Roz Currie.

The contribution of Jewish people to British public life be it as a philanthropist, soldier, lawyer, politicians, suffragist or SOE agents who risked their lives during the Second World War:

  • Rose Heilbron – Britain’s first female judge
  • Sir Hersch Lauterpacht – a lawyer who developed the concept of crimes against humanity
  • Krystyna Skarbeck – SOE agent honoured with OBE, George Medal and Croix de Guerre
  • Lenora Cohen – suffragette and bodyguard to Emmeline Pankhurst
  • Lionel de Rothschild – first practising Jew as an MP

Jewish Lives Commerce

Jewish Lives - commerce bannerAuthored essays by Professor William Rubinstein, Nathan Abrams, Elizabeth Selby, Emmanuelle Dirix and Derek Taylor.

A compilation of extraordinary British Jews’ contribution to the commercial sector including biographies of bankers, businessmen and women, financiers, hoteliers, publishers, industrialists and manufacturers:

  • Brian Epstein – legendary manager of the Beatles
  • Rachel Beer – first female to edit a Fleet Street newspaper
  • Jack Cohen – founder of Tesco
  • Nathan Mayer Rothschild – founder of the famous banking dynasty
  • Joseph Lyons – pioneer of mass catering and creator of ‘Lyons Corner Shops’

Jewish Lives Thought

Jewish Lives Thought. Cartoon line illustration of Freud .

Authored essays by William D. Rubinstein, Derek Taylor, David Harris, David Rosenberg and Joe Kerr

The contribution of over 180 Jewish ‘thinkers’ to British cultural life, with biographies of leading theorists, non-fiction writers, Talmudists and religious leaders, political thinkers, historians, journalists, philosophers, economists, linguists and distinguished scholars, including:

  • Lionel Blue – Britain’s first openly gay rabbi and much-loved broadcaster
  • Geoffrey Elton – renowned Tudor historian
  • Sigmund Freud – father of psychoanalysis
  • Anna Freud – pioneer of child psychoanalysis
  • Karl Marx – father of communism
  • Marjorie Proops – Britain’s favourite Agony Aunt
  • Nikolaus Pevsner – architectural historian

Jewish Lives Science 

Line drawing of person looking right in blue coloured topAuthored essays by Derek Taylor, Gavin Schaffer, Nigel Hussey, Geoffrey Cantor, Jennifer Glynn and Naomi Attar

This volume looks at the extraordinary contribution of Jewish scientists, with over 190 biographies of prominent mathematicians, physicists, statisticians, biochemists, sociologists, inventors, surgeons, chemists, astronomers and doctors, including:

  • Asher Asher – First Scottish born Jewish doctor
  • Jacob Boronowski – scientist and popular broadcaster
  • Ernst Chain – biochemist and Nobel Prize winner
  • Ludwig Guttman – Neurosurgeon and creator of the Paralympics
  • Rosalind Franklin – DNA pioneer
  • Max Perutz – chemist and Nobel Prize winner