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Star literary agent dies in Zurich

Ruth Liepman's life was as exciting as some of the novels she helped to get published Keystone

The Swiss-based literary agent, Ruth Liepman, has passed away in Zurich, aged 92. Considered one of the European giants of her profession, she worked on behalf of some the world's best-known English speaking authors.

This content was published on May 31, 2001 - 12:37

Liepman negotiated rights for her clients with German speaking publishing houses. Some of her customers were such literary giants as Norman Mailer, Vladimir Nabokov, Arthur Miller or J. D. Salinger.

In many ways, her life was also as exciting as some of the novels she helped get published. In 1934, she was accused of treason by the Hamburg prosecutor's office, and to avoid a stay in a Nazi prison, she headed for Holland where she married a Swiss architect, Oskar Stock.

Her wedding, along with a newly acquired Swiss passport and a job at the Swiss consulate in Amsterdam allowed her to escape the clutches of the German authorities.

Her new position also helped her to save Jews and political refugees from the Nazis, who occupied the Netherlands in 1940. But in 1943, she was betrayed and forced to go underground.

After the war, divorce papers in hand, Ruth Stock headed back to Hamburg where she married the writer and journalist Heinz Liepman. Liepman had just returned from exile in the United States, with a list of American authors who wanted to be published in Germany in his suitcase.

The couple moved to Zurich in 1961, where their literary agency continued to expand.

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