Hobson, John L. (John Lambert), 1897-1967

Francis Thayer Hobson, who stopped using his first name as an adult, was born in Denver, Colorado, on 4 September 1897. He had one brother, Henry Wise, who became a bishop in the Episcopal Church, and two sisters, Eleanor (later Mackenzie) and Katherine (unmarried). Hobson interrupted his studies at Yale University to join the French army during World War I. In 1917 he served as a machine gunner for the American Expeditionary Force until he was seriously wounded and returned home in 1918. After recuperating he returned to Yale, where he served as business manager for the Yale Daily News Board, working with fellow students Briton Haddon and Henry R. Luce. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale in 1920 and worked briefly in a manufacturing company before taking positions as an English teacher at Westminster School and Yale College. From 1922 to 1924 he did postgraduate work at Yale. In 1925 he divorced his first wife, Janet Camp (who later published studies of the Rossetti family under the name Janet Camp Troxell), and married Priscilla Fansler, with whom he had one son, Timothy. He spent 1925-26 in Paris studying at the Sorbonne.

Hobson decided to enter the publishing business in 1926 after meeting his college friend Ed Knopf in Europe. He returned home and began working for the newly founded William Morrow and Company. In 1929, Hobson and Priscilla divorced; she would subsequently marry Alger Hiss. From 1930 to 1935 he was married to Laura Zametkin, and they jointly wrote two western novels published by Morrow under the pseudonym Peter Field; Laura Z. Hobson later became a well-known novelist on her own. Hobson himself continued to pursue his own creative writing aspirations for a while and published a small number of stories under various pseudonyms, but left off writing in the mid-1930s.


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