Max Knight Papers, 1909-1993
- The bul of the collection consists of the writings of the co-authors Max Knight (Max Eugen Kühnel) and Joseph Fabry (Joseph Epstein), who wrote and published jointly from 1933 to 1993 under the pseudonym of Peter Fabrizius.
- 4 cubic ft.
- English , German .
- Preferred citation:
- Preferred citation for this material is as follows: and Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Max Knight Papers, 1909-1993. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Knight Papers).
Access and Use
- Conditions Governing Access:
Access to this record group is unrestricted.
The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
- Scope and Content:
The bulk of the collection consists of the writings of the co-authors Max Knight (Max Eugen Kühnel) and Joseph Fabry (Joseph Epstein), who wrote and published jointly from 1933 to 1993 under the pseudonym of Peter Fabrizius. The duo wrote and published short stories, poetry and drama in German in their native Austria until 1938, when both were forced to flee the Hitler regime. After 1938, the authors reunited in the United States (San Francisco) and continued to publish under the joint pseudonym in both English and German. Although many of the earlier short stories were translated, the duo gradually changed to essayistic writing and translation of German poetry and verse into English. Although the bulk of the published writings appeared under the Peter Fabrizius pen name, Knight and Fabry also published individually under their own names, as well as jointly under various other pseudonyms, including: Charlotte Ellert, Peter Joe Fabry, Peter Förster, Peter Foster, Fregoli, Paul Fridolin, Ernst Friese, Hugh Gosser, Stephan Hanke, Dr. Josef Hans, J. Hinkel, Myra (Mia) Schütz and Oliver Twin.
- Biographical / Historical:
Max Knight was born Max Kühnel on June 8, 1909 to Bernhard and Margarethe Hoffer Kühnel in Pilsen, Austria (now The Czech Republic). He led a very protected and comfortable childhood, his father having attained a secure position as vice president of the Wiener Bankverein. Although of Jewish descent, the Kühnels were not practicing Jews, nor did they observe Jewish traditions or holidays. Max received his classical education, including Latin and Greek studies, history, social sciences, physical sciences and mathematics at the gymnasium, while receiving private tutoring in English and French along with piano, gymnastics, fencing, dancing, literature and art history.
After graduating from the gymnasium, and although he had strongly expressed his wish to become a writer, Max was convinced by his parents to attend the University of Vienna to pursue law, a more practical career, in the event his writing career was not profitable enough to earn him a living. In 1931, while attending a university study seminar, Max first made the acquaintance of Joseph Epstein (later Joseph Fabry), who was to become the other half of the writing duo known as Peter Fabrizius. This collaboration and friendship, which spanned 50 years and occasionally published under other pseudonyms (Brandy von Brandenburg, Oliver Twin), began in Austria, continued through their separate flights from the Nazis in Austria, reunited for a brief time in London, and, finally, permanently reunited in Berkeley, California.
The short stories and poems published under the name of Peter Fabrizius (the most popular pen name of Max Kühnel and Joseph Epstein) were often a collaborative effort, written by one, edited by the other, and rewritten again by the first; other pieces were written solely by one member of the duo. In all cases, however, publication appeared under the joint name of Peter Fabrizius, with neither party claiming sole ownership of the piece. For this reason, with the exception of the few pieces that appeared under Max Kühnel or Joseph Epstein, it is nearly impossible to discern which member of the duo was responsible for actually penning a particular piece. This pattern continued into the 1960s, until separate careers and interests produced articles and publications under the individual (anglicized) names of Max Knight and Joseph Fabry. The friendship continued and one last Fabrizius collaboration was realized in 1988 with the publication of their "duography" entitled One and One Make Three: Story of a Friendship.
Max Kühnel fled Austria on March 11, 1938, the same day Kurt Schuschnigg resigned as Chancellor of Austria, leaving the way free for the country's annexation by Hitler. Max managed to reach England, procured a job at the Jewish Spectator, and arranged for his parents to join him in November. Early in 1940, Max realized that England might soon suffer France's fate and began preparations to immigrate to the U.S. The wait would be nearly a year. Still, since he feared to wait in London, he applied for travel to the only port that accepted refugees without visas, Shanghai, China. On August 10, 1940 Max left London on a ship bound for Halifax, Canada, crossing Canada to Vancouver by train, and finally sailing to Shanghai, arriving on October 5. Kühnel remained in Shanghai, working as an English teacher and a staff member on the North China Daily News, until May of 1941, when with the help of his lifelong friend, he obtained a visa for the U.S.
On May 2, 1941, Max Kühnel boarded a ship bound for Seattle, Washington. 11 days later, under the advice of friend Joseph Epstein (now known as Joseph Fabry), Max debarked in Seattle as Max Knight. Several months later, the two writers were reunited in San Francisco.
Max Knight's and Joseph Fabry's careers in the U.S. took different paths. Both men married, Joe early in 1941, Max in mid-1942. Joe became an editor for Agricultural Information, later joined the Unitarian Church, and was introduced to the works of Viktor Frankl, becoming the leading exponent of Frankl's teachings in the United States. Max returned to school, received his Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley, and eventually became editor of the University of California Press, a position he kept until his retirement in 1976. His literary path turned to the art of translation, translating from German into English plays by Bertolt Brecht, poems by Christian Morgenstern, correspondence of Richard Strauss and Stefan Zweig, as well as works by Gottfried Benn, Johann Nestroy, and the law theory of his former Austrian law instructor, Hans Kelsen. He also translated Ogden Nash from English into German and received Austria's Goldenes Ehrenzeichen für Verdienste um die Republik Österreich (Golden Honor Award) for his translations of Karl Kraus and Johann Nestroy.
Max Knight died at the age of 84 on August 31, 1993 at his home in Berkeley, California from complications which developed after a heart bypass operation in February of the same year. He was survived by his wife, Charlotte, two sons, Anthony and Martin, and his life-long friend and collaborator, Joseph Fabry.
1909 June 8, born in Pilsen, Austria (now The Czech Republic) to Bernhard and Margaret (née Hoffer) Kühnel. 1915-1921 Attended Volkschule. 1921-1928 Attended the classical Gymnasium in Vienna. 1928-1933 Attended the University of Vienna to study law. 1931 First made the acquaintance of Joseph Epstein (later Joseph Fabry) in a law seminar. 1931-1938 Wrote short stories and poetry (nearly 200 pieces) for Austrian and German literary journals, together with Joseph Epstein under the pen name of Peter Fabrizius; wrote regularly for the Neues Wiener Tagblatt. 1933 Received the Doctor of Law degree from the University of Vienna. 1933-1935 Worked as a law clerk in Vienna. 1937 Became a free-lance writer for the Neues Wiener Tagblatt; Oct.-Dec., went to London in order to sell the Fabrizius stories to British newspapers. 1938 March 10, received a job as a feature editor for the Neues Wiener Tagblatt; March 11, left Austria for England, the same day that Kurt Schuschnigg resigned as Chancellor of Austria. 1938-1940 Lived in London, writing short stories and feature articles for the Daily Herald and other British papers, literary journals; received a position at the Jewish Chronicle, reading and summarizing articles from Nazi newspapers. 1939 March 22, reuniting of Peter Fabrizius in London. 1940-1941 Lived in Shanghai; news editor for the North China Daily News. 1941 Immigration to the United States; arrived in Seattle, Washington on May 13. 1942 Attended the University of California, Berkeley as a graduate student in Oriental languages; married Charlotte Lowes of Toronto, Canada. 1943 Became naturalized American citizen. 1943-1945 Became a scriptwriter and news analyst in the Chinese Section of the U.S. Office of War Information. 1945-1947 Became Financial Editor of the San Francisco Daily Commercial News. 1947 Birth of son, Anthony. 1947-1948 Became a Lecturer in International Relations at the San Francisco Unified School District. 1949-1950 University of California, Berkeley Ph.D. program in Political Science/International Relations as a Research Assistant; became Deputy Executive Secretary of RADIR (Revolution and Development of International Relations, a Carnegie project) at the Hoover Institution, Stanford. 1951-1976 Principal Editor of the University of California Press. 1951 Birth of son, Martin. 1967-1993 Participation in the University of California Extension, Editorial Workshop. 1976 Retirement from the University of California Press. 1976-1993 Freelance editor, various publishers and university presses. 1986 Received the Golden Honor Award for his translations of Karl Kraus and Johann Nestroy from German into English from the Austrian government (Goldenes Ehrenzeichen für Verdienste um die Republik Österreich). 1993 Aug. 31, died at the age of 84 at home in Berkeley, California.
- Acquisition information:
All items in this manuscript group were donated to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, by the family of Max Knight in 1993.
The collection is organized as follows:
Series 1: Autobiographical and biographical materials, 1909-1991 Series 2: Correspondence files, 1940-1992 Series 3: Manuscripts of short stories (co-authored), book manuscripts and translations of poetry, ca. 1938-1992 Series 4: Clippings of published stories and essays, 1930-1992 Series 5: Miscellaneous materials
- Processing information:
Processed in April 2006 by Sandra Hunt Hawrylchak.