Titles by the Author
For many years the identity of B. Traven has been a mystery. Obsessively protective of his privacy, he refused to be photographed or interviewed. He insisted that he be judged only by his work, and held that autobiographical details were of no consequence in evaluating his writings. He conducted his business by mail from Mexico. On those occasions when a personal meeting was required he sent a "representative," although some insist that this man was actually Traven himself.
There have been several versions of Traven's background. One version held that Traven was a German writer held in high esteem in pre-Nazi Germany. His name was Marut, which an editor misread as "Traven." He was supposed to have left Germany for Mexico in 1919.
Another, more widely held version is that Traven was born in Minnesota or Chicago, of Swedish-American parents. His full name is thought to have been Berick Torsvan Traven. He had little education; he went to sea and later settled in Mexico - which was to be the setting for much of his work.
While the facts of his background remain sketchy there is little question about Traven's popularity as a writer. He enjoyed a considerable reputation in Europe before World War II, and in Germany was regarded as the equal of Jack London. In the Soviet Union his books sold over a million copies.
For years he refused to be published in the United States, claiming to be disgusted by American publicity methods. Consequently, he remained unknown to a large segment of the reading public. With the brilliant film version of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre in 1948, Traven achieved some degree of recognition in the United States.
The publication of The Night Visitor and Other Stories in 1966 earned him wide critical acclaim, and Traven began to receive the recognition that had long escaped him in the United States. Many who had not associated Traven with the enormously popular film of The Treasure of hte Sierra Madre were delighted to discover a powerful and gifted novelist in the tradition of Conrad.
In addition to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre Traven's other works include The Death Ship (1934), The Carreta (1935), Government (1935), The Bridge in the Jungle (1938), and The Rebellion of the Hanged (1952).