Itzik Manger (30 May 1901, Czernowitz, then Austrian-Hungarian Empire – 21 February 1969, Gedera, Israel) (Yiddish: איציק מאַנגער) was a prominent Yiddish poet and playwright, a self-proclaimed folk bard, visionary, and 'master tailor' of the written word. A Jew from Bucovina, Manger lived in Romania, Poland, France, England and finally Israel.
Manger was born in Czernowitz, Austria-Hungary (later Romania and now Ukraine) in 1901. His father, Hillel Manger, was a skilled tailor in love with literature, which he referred to as 'literatoyreh' (a portmanteau of the Yiddish words literatura and Toyreh). As a teenager, Manger attended the Kaiser Königlicher Dritter Staats-Gymnasium, where he studied German literature until he was expelled for pranks and bad behaviour. He exchanged this traditional education for the backstage atmosphere of the Yiddish theatre.
In 1921, Manger began publishing his early poems and ballads in several new literary journals founded in the aftermath of World War I. Soon afterwards, he settled in Bucharest and wrote for the local Yiddish newspapers while giving occasional lectures on Spanish, Romanian, and Gypsy folklore.
In 1927, Manger came to Warsaw, the spiritual and intellectual center of Ashkenazi Jewry and "the most inspiring city in Poland." Manger lived in the capital of the Yiddish cultural world for the next decade, which became the most productive years of his entire career. In 1929, Manger published his first book of poetry, Shtern afn dakh (Stars on the Roof), in Warsaw to critical acclaim. By the following year, Manger was so well known that he was admitted to the select Yiddish P.E.N. club, along with Isaac Bashevis, Israel Rabon, and I. Papiernikov.
Between 1929 and 1938, Manger took the Warsaw literary world by storm. He gave frequent readings of his own poetry at the Writers' Club, was interviewed by all the major Warsaw Yiddish papers, published articles in the prestigious journal Literarishe Bleter (Literary Pages), issued his own literary journal called Chosen Words filled with his poetry, fiction, and artistic manifestos. At the same time, Manger continued to publish his own works, including a series of modernist poems inspired by the Oral Torah (Itzik's Midrash, 1935), a dramatic rewriting of the Purim story (Songs of the Megillah, 1936), a loose adaptation of Abraham Goldfaden's The Witch of Botoşani (Hotzmakh's Shpiel, 1937), a series of fictional vignettes on the history of Yiddish literature (Familiar Portraits, 1938), and three more volumes of poetry (Lantern in the Wind, 1933; Velvl Zbarzher Writes Letters to Malkele the Beautiful, 1937; and Twilight in the Mirror, 1937).