Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Sanora Babb, James Wong Howe, and dog. Click to enlarge.

Sanora and James Wong Howe with dog

Sanora Babb in her 80s. Click to enlarge.

Sanora in her 80s, Hollywood, California


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Group of writers, including Babb, seated around a table. Click to enlarge.

Los Angeles Writers Group, ca. 1955

ers she had come to know and drafted the manuscript of her second novel, The Lost Traveler (1958). Among her new friends in Mexico were novelist B. Traven, dancer Waldeen, instrumental in integrating Mexican folk dance into classical ballet, and numerous blacklisted Hollywood writers such as Albert Maltz, Bernard Gordon, and Cedric Belfrage.

Returning to Los Angeles she continued to write and publish well into her eighties. In the 1950s and ‘60s she met regularly with a writers' group that included Ray Bradbury, Esther McCoy, Sid Stebel, Bonnie Barrett Wolfe, C. Y. Lee, Peg Nixon, Richard Bach, and Dolph Sharp. Revived interest in the radical literature of the 1930s, spurned by publishers during the repressive Cold War years, prompted Babb after some sixty years to release the re-edited manuscript of Whose Names Are Unknown. Its publication in 2004 won enthusiastic critical praise, including a Los Angeles Times review claiming that Babb's Dust Bowl novel rivaled Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Sanora Babb continues to gain a steadily growing readership and critical recognition as a novelist of extraordinary sensitivity, valued for her clarity, honesty, and craftsmanship. Other publications include the novels The Lost Traveler (1958), An Owl on Every Post (1971), a collection of short stories entitled The Cry of the Tinamou (1997), and a book of poems, Told in the Seed. Preceded in death by her sister Dorothy in 1995, Sanora died at age 98 on December 31, 2005, at her home in Hollywood, California.