Bel Kaufman (b. 1911) was a bestselling writer, dedicated teacher, and lecturer best known for her novel Up the Down Staircase (1965), a classic portrayal of life in the New York public school system. Kaufman was born in Berlin, the daughter of Russian parents and granddaughter of celebrated Yiddish writer Sholom Aleichem. Her family moved to Odessa when she was three, and Russian is her native language. The family also lived in Moscow before immigrating to New York City when Kaufman was twelve. There, she graduated magna cum laude from Hunter College and with high honors from Columbia University. Kaufman then worked as a high school teacher in the city for three decades. The success of Up the Down Staircase launched her second career as a sought-after speaker for events around the country. Kaufman is also the author of Love, Etc. (1979), a powerful, haunting, and poignant novel rendering life as fiction.