|Written by Matthew Stewart, KSU Professor.|
Ruth Wasby Feldman (1911-2003) was born and raised in East Liverpool in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in the city’s West End. Her parents, immigrants from Lithuania, owned a small department store in town. At 17, she enrolled at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, but the death of her parents prompted Ruth to move to Cambridge, Mass. to be with her brother, who was attending Harvard Law School. Ruth finished her degree at Wellesley College, married an attorney, and enjoyed a privileged life in Boston’s upper-middle class society.
Picture from Matt Stewart's Ohio River Life Blog.
After her husband died suddenly in his fifties, she began writing poetry and pursuing her talent as a translator of Italian poetry and prose. Feldman spent the remainder of her long life traveling in Europe and maintaining residences in both Cambridge and Rome. There is evidence in her writings that she returned to East Liverpool on occasion to visit friends.
Feldman’s poetry appeared in magazines and journals prior to the publication of three books. Two of those collections: The Ambitions of Ghosts and To Whom it May Concern. Many of her English translations of Italian writers—including Lucio Piccolo, Andrea Zanzotto, and Primo Levi—remain in print.
Feldman’s East Liverpool home, built in 1880, still stands at the corner of W. Fourth and Monroe streets. Many people in town know it as the "Bendheim house" because the Bendheim family lived in it for so many years.