PERSONAL: Married; children: two daughters.
ADDRESSES: Home— London, England. Agent— Natasha Fairweather, A.P. Watt Ltd., 20 John St., London WC1N 2DR, England.
CAREER: Writer, journalist, sociologist, broadcaster. Cosmopolitan, former contributing editor;New Statesman, columnist;Jewish Chronicle, columnist;Guardian (London, England), columnist; British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Radio 3 and 4, broadcaster. London Metropolitan University, senior lecturer.
Doctoring the Media: The Reporting of Health and Illness, Routledge (London, England), 1988.
The War After: Living with the Holocaust, Minerva (London, England), 1996.
The Human Voice: The Story of a Talent, Bloomsbury (London, England), 2006, published as The Human Voice: How This Extraordinary Instrument Reveals Essential Clues about Who We Are, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2006.
The Human Voice, has been translated into German, French, and Japanese. The War After was translated into German.
Contributor to books, including Nothing Makes You Free, edited by Melvyn Bucket, W.W. Norton, 2003. Contributor of articles to periodicals, including Cosmopolitan, Times (London, England), Guardian (London, England), the Mail on Sunday, and the New Statesman.
ADAPTATIONS: The War After: Living with the Holocaust was serialized in the London Times and the Mail on Sunday.
SIDELIGHTS: British author Anne Karpf is known for her nonfiction work on the reporting of health care, Doctoring the Media: The Reporting of Health and Illness, and for her family memoir of the holocaust, The War After: Living with the Holocaust.A BBC radio broadcaster and instructor at the University of London, she has also been a columnist for several major British periodicals. Her 2006 work, The Human Voice: How This Extraordinary Instrument Reveals Essential Clues about Who We Are (published in England as The Human Voice: The Story of a Talent,) introduced her writing to readers in the United States as well.
The Human Voice is, according to a Kirkus Reviews critic, a “wide-ranging examination of the human voice, drawing on the fields of anatomy, child development, linguistics, psychology, anthropology and cultural studies.” Karpf examines the power of the voice and talking from many angles. She looks at the anatomical means by which speech is produced in humans, noting that the human vocal chords vibrate more than a million times per day. She further inspects the timbre and sound of voices of broadcasters as well as mothers. For example, she examined the voice of former British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, and the manner in which she would change her voice from a higher register when she was railing against something or someone, to lower tones when she wanted to comfort the audience. A Publishers Weekly reviewer felt this “lively and intelligent guide reveals how powerfully and pervasively the human voice shapes our everyday world.” This is true not only in the oratorical skills of politicians and broadcasters but also in the soothing tones of a mother to her child. Following this line of study, Karpf observes the impact of the mother’s voice on the baby and on the baby’s developing linguistic skill. In this context, she also points out that linguists have shown that “baby talk” is an international language. She further looks at the variety of ways an individual’s voice can change, depending on the circumstances, and investigates gender and voice, observing, for example, that women’s voices have lowered in the past half-century as women increasingly compete in the marketplace and society with men. Karpf ends with a discussion of new voice technologies, including voiceprints and voice machines.
Karpf’s The Human Voice won critical praise on both sides of the Atlantic. Writing in Library Journal, Michael C. Cramer found it a “unique and fascinating book” that “skillfully articulates the science and anthropology behind the voice.” The Publishers Weekly contributor went on to call the book a “fluent study,” while Entertainment Weekly contributor Chris Willman called it a “delightful distillation.” Similarly, the Kirkus Reviews critic felt it was an “entertaining account.” Reviewing the British publication in the Times, Fiona Shaw termed it “thrilling” and a work that “explores with enthusiastic brio this fundamental capacity.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
Karpf, Anne, The War After: Living with the Holocaust, Minerva (London, England), 1996.
Booklist, July 1, 2006, Bryce Christensen, review of The Human Voice: How This Extraordinary Instrument Reveals Essential Clues about Who We Are, p. 16.
Entertainment Weekly, August 25, 2006, Chris Will-man, review of The Human Voice, p. 90.
Herizons, winter, 2007, review of The Human Voice, p. 9.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2006, review of The Human Voice, p. 506.
Library Journal, Michael D. Cramer, review of The Human Voice, p. 100.
Publishers Weekly, April 24, 2006, review of The Human Voice, p. 46.
Sunday Times (London, England), June 11, 2006, Russell Davies, review of The Human Voice: The Story of a Remarkable Talent.
Times (London, England), August 5, 2006, Fiona Shaw, review of The Human Voice.
Times Literary Supplement, August 30, 1996, Caroline Moorehead, review of The War After, p. 36; September 29, 2006, Jennifer Coates, review of The Human Voice, p. 34.
A.P. Watt Ltd. Web site, http://www.apwatt.co.uk/ (January 27, 2007), “Anne Karpf.”
Bloomsbury Publishers Web site, http://www.bloomsburyusa.com/ (January 27, 2007), “Anne Karpf.”