Sanford, John B., 1904-

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Sanford: attorney, poet, and novelist. Received law degree, 1928, but on advice of author, Nathanael West, pursued writing career. Williams published some of Sanford's works in journal, "Contact." Sanford's published works include "The Water Wheel" and "A Man Without Shoes."

Williams: American poet and physician.

From the description of William Carlos Williams letters to John B. Sanford and others, 1931-1950. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 83633934

John B. Sanford, born Julian L. Shapiro in New York in 1904, studied to become a lawyer until his friend, the author Nathanael West, encouraged him to take up writing. In the summer of 1931, they retreated to a cabin in the forests of the Adirondacks, where Shapiro completed his first novel, The Water Wheel. Following its publication in 1933, he adopted the name of the book's protagonist as his pen name, which he then made his legal name in 1940. .

The critical success of his second novel, The Old Man's Place (1935), led to a script-writing job in Hollywood, where he met his wife, screenwriter Marguerite Roberts. Having already established a successful career for herself, Roberts offered to support Sanford so he could return to writing novels

From the description of The John B. Sanford/Robert W. Smith Collection, (ca. 1982-1991) (University of California, Santa Barbara). WorldCat record id: 429545128

Sanford: attorney, poet, and novelist. Received law degree, 1928, but on advice of author, Nathanael West, pursued writing career. Williams published some of Sanford's works in journal, "Contact." Sanford's published works include "The Water Wheel" and "A Man Without Shoes."

Williams: American poet and physician.

From the description of William Carlos Williams letters to John B. Sanford and others, 1931-1950. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702148001

Biography

John B. Sanford, born Julian L. Shapiro in New York in 1904, studied to become a lawyer until his friend, the author Nathanael West, encouraged him to take up writing. In the summer of 1931, they retreated to a cabin in the forests of the Adirondacks, where Shapiro completed his first novel, The Water Wheel. Following its publication in 1933, he adopted the name of the book's protagonist as his pen name, which he then made his legal name in 1940. The critical success of his second novel, The Old Man's Place (1935), led to a script-writing job in Hollywood, where he met his wife, screenwriter Marguerite Roberts. Having already established a successful career for herself, Roberts offered to support Sanford so he could return to writing novels.

Sanford had produced three more novels when, in 1951, he and his wife were called before the Communist-hunting House Committee on Un-American Activities, led by Senator Joseph McCarthy. Both Sanford and Roberts refused to testify and were subsequently blacklisted. Overcome by guilt that his left-wing politics had derailed his wife's career, Sanford wrote nothing until Hollywood began accepting screenplays from her again in the 1960s. He soon abandoned fiction, however, and produced his acclaimed A More Goodly Country: A Personal History of America (1975), followed by the autobiographical series Scenes from the Life of an American Jew (1985-1991).

In 1982, Black Sparrow Press of Santa Barbara reissued Sanford's novel A Man without Shoes, which had failed miserably when first released in 1951. The book came to the attention of freelance book reviewer Robert W. Smith, a former CIA officer who had published numerous books and articles on Asian martial arts, on which he was an acknowledged expert. Smith began a correspondence with Sanford, and within months they had become fast friends. Smith took it upon himself to resuscitate Sanford's literary reputation and wrote glowing reviews of Sanford's books as they came out, even lobbying The New York Times Book Review to be assigned Sanford's The Winters of That Country (1984). Although the Times turned him down, Smith was able to place articles and reviews in the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Washington Post.

Both flattered and grateful for the attention Smith had brought his work, Sanford maintained a cheery correspondence for several years, but their relationship began to change upon the death of Sanford's wife Maggie. Devastated by the loss, Sanford began to withdraw into himself, trying to lose himself in his writing. Then, in the spring of 1991, Smith wrote a review of the final volume of Sanford's autobiography, The Season, It Was Winter, which Sanford felt denigrated his wife's talent as a writer. With two terse notes, Sanford terminated their friendship. Shortly afterward, Robert W. Smith stopped writing book reviews.

From the guide to the John B. Sanford/Robert W. Smith Collection, ca. 1982-1991, (University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Department of Special Collections)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Bloomgarden, Kermit, 1904-1976. Papers, 1938-1977. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
creatorOf Sanford, John B., 1904-. William Carlos Williams letters to John B. Sanford and others, 1931-1950. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn New Directions Publishing Corp. records, 1932-2005 Houghton Library
creatorOf Sanford, John B., 1904-. The John B. Sanford/Robert W. Smith Collection, (ca. 1982-1991) University of California, Santa Barbara, UCSB Library
creatorOf John B. Sanford/Robert W. Smith Collection, ca. 1982-1991 University of California, Santa Barbara. Davidson Library. Department of Special Collections.
referencedIn Sanford, John B., 1904-. The John B. Sanford/Robert W. Smith Collection, (ca. 1982-1991) University of California, Santa Barbara, UCSB Library
creatorOf Mariani, Paul L. Paul L. Mariani papers, 1961-2003. Boston College. John J. Burns Library
creatorOf Sanford, John B., 1904-. William Carlos Williams letters to John B. Sanford and others, 1931-1950. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Bloomgarden, Kermit, 1904-1976. person
associatedWith Flores, Angel, 1900-1994. person
associatedWith Mariani, Paul L. person
correspondedWith New Directions Publishing Corp. corporateBody
associatedWith Sanford, John B., 1904- person
associatedWith Smith, Robert W. person
associatedWith West, Nathanael, 1903-1940. person
associatedWith Williams, William Carlos, 1883-1963. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Novelists, American--20th century
Authors, American--20th century
Occupation
Activity

Person

Birth 1904-05-31

Death 2003-03-06

Americans

English

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