House of Exile

The Lives and Times of Heinrich Mann and Nelly Kroeger-Mann

Evelyn Juers

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

In 1933 the author and political activist Heinrich Mann and his partner, Nelly Kroeger, fled Nazi Germany, finding refuge first in the south of France and later, in great despair, in Los Angeles, where Nelly committed suicide in 1944 and Heinrich died in 1950. Born into a wealthy middle-class family in Lübeck, Heinrich was one of the leading representatives of Weimar culture. Nelly was twenty-seven years younger, the adopted daughter of a fisherman and a hostess in a Berlin bar. As far as Heinrich’s family was concerned, she was from the wrong side of the tracks.  In House of Exile, Heinrich and Nelly’s story is crossed with others from their circle of friends, relatives, and contemporaries: Heinrich’s brother, Thomas Mann; his sister, Carla; their friends Bertolt Brecht, Alfred Döblin, and Joseph Roth; and, beyond them, the writers James Joyce, Franz Kafka, and Virginia Woolf, among others. Evelyn Juers brings this generation of exiles to life with tremendous poignancy and imaginative power. In train compartments, ship cabins, and rented rooms, the Manns clung to what was left to them—their bodies, their minds, and their books—in a turbulent and self-destructive era.


Read an Excerpt

HOUSE OF EXILE (Chapter One)Blink of an Eye

Approaching from a distance, hand in hand like lovers, the tall blonde and the old gentleman both called out to him – Brecht! He turned towards them and waved. The Californian sun glinted from his glasses like the sword of Zorro. It was early morning. Heat and the scent of jasmine hung loosely all about the market-place. Sunlight played upon the unreal splendour of the fruit and vegetables. Not quite real. Some people claimed the produce of this country lacked character, it always looked much more promising, bigger, brighter, than it tasted.



Praise for House of Exile

House of Exile is an engaging, unconventional exercise in collective biography . . . [that] mixes historical research with almost poetic imagination, creating a compelling panorama.” —Ian Brunskill, The Times (London)

“Scintillating and rather magical...House of Exile is an extraordinary book, and a really rare accomplishment."  —Michael Hofman, The Times Literary Supplement
“Juers creates a composite subjectivity through which the reader experiences the unfolding political events with unusual intimacy and immediacy. Her use of various running motifs to connect different parts of the story adds to the effect . . . It's a provocative but inspired application of the methods of poetry to non-fiction . . . [There is] an implicit assertion that, in the right hands, history and biography can do everything the novel can do, only better. [Juers] certainly makes a good case for it.” —James Lasdun, The Guardian

In the Press

HOUSE OF EXILE by Evelyn JuersKirkus Book Reviews
Read the Kirkus Review of HOUSE OF EXILE The Lives and Times of Heinrich Mann and Nelly Kroeger-Mann. An impressionistic collective biography of literary Europe in the 1930s and '40s, focusing on the circle that gathered around brothers Heinrich and Thomas Mann.
- Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Evelyn Juers

  • Evelyn Juers is the copublisher of Giramondo Publishing and HEAT magazine. She has lived in Hamburg, Sydney, London, and Geneva. She has a PhD from the University of Essex, and her essays on art and literature have appeared in publications around the world.
  • Evelyn Juers © Conrad Del Villar


Available Formats and Book Details

House of Exile

The Lives and Times of Heinrich Mann and Nelly Kroeger-Mann

Evelyn Juers