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Jessamyn West: A Local Author

Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures.

- Jessamyn West

Jessamyn West, known mostly for her fiction, also wrote poetry, non-fiction, short stories, and screenplays. Born in 1902 in Indiana, she moved with her family to Yorba Linda, California in 1909 and graduated from Whittier College with a B.A. in English in 1923. In 1932, while working on a doctoral degree in English at the University of California, Berkeley, she became seriously ill from tuberculosis. In the following years, she spent her time recovering and writing short stories. Shortly after the publication of her first story in 1940, West and her husband relocated to Napa, California. In 1945, her first and most famous novel, The Friendly Persuasion, which was made into a Hollywood film in 1956, was published. Her Husband, Dr. Harry McPherson, was a founder of Napa Valley College (then Napa Junior College) and its first superintendent. West spent the remainder of her life writing and had published 27 unique works at the time of her death in 1984.

Dahlstrom Farmer, and O'Brien, Philip M. Jessamyn West: A Descriptive Annotated Bibliography. The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1998.

Jessamyn West

Photograph of Jessamyn West by Johan Hagemeyer September 25, 1954. From UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library.