Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Photo EssayThe Lost Photographs Of Isaac Bashevis Singer

Editor’s Note:

In the summer of 2016,the Brooklyn Historical Society’s exhibit “Truman Capote’s Brooklyn” brought new attention to the late photographer David Attie. Attie, who died in 1982, was perhaps best known for his portraits of such luminaries as Capote, Lorraine Hansberry, Leonard Bernstein, Bobby Fischer and Ralph Ellison.

Attie had been a commercial illustrator in the 1950s — working on advertisement and book cover designs — before he made the switch to photography.

Recently, Attie’s son Eli — a TV writer and former Washington speechwriter who wrote for “The West Wing” and worked for Al Gore — discovered a trove of unpublished photos of Isaac Bashevis Singer. The photos, which feature Singer on the Lower East Side and, in one case, in front of a Forward delivery truck, were taken in 1968 for Amerika (aka America Illustrated), a U.S. government publication distributed in the former Soviet Union. To our knowledge, most of these photographs have never been published before.

1 / 7

Singer stands in front of a Forward truck parked outside of the Forward building, where he worked as a staff writer. Photo by David Attie

2 / 7

Singer poses near representatives of the old generation and the new — characters who wouldn’t have seemed out of place in his stories. Photo by David Attie

3 / 7

Singer near the intersection of Canal Street and Rutgers. In the background, the Garden Cafeteria which Singer and other Forward writers frequented. Photo by David Attie

4 / 7

Singer at the Forward with Maurice Winograd, who was a poet, the arts editor, and travel secretary for Ab Cahan. Photo by David Attie

5 / 7

Photo by David Attie

6 / 7

Photo by David Attie

7 / 7

Photographer David Attie, who is famous for his portraits of Bobby Fischer and Lorraine Hansberry. among others. Courtesy of Eli Attie

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.