Rebecca Yerger, Memory Lane: The Literary Legacy of Napa County | History
A few years later a scandal stirred the small Napa County community of Pope Valley when the novel “Valley People” was published in 1935. Frances Marion, the author, and one of Hollywood’s first screenwriters, said her Characters and their stories were based on her conversations with the people of Pope Valley while she was staying at her father’s resort town, Aetna Springs. The book’s portrayal of the community as isolated consanguines doomed to self-destruction and domination naturally ruffled many feathers.
Another author who whetted the reader’s appetite was Mary Frances Kennedy, known as MFK Fisher. The Sainte-Hélène resident wrote “How to cook a wolf”, “The art of eating”, “Two towns of Provence” and other cookbooks from the 1940s and throughout her long life. Fisher wrote some of these books while living in St Helena for about 15 years.
If Fisher’s works satisfy the body, another author’s writing nourishes the soul of his poetry. William “Jack” Lyman was a native son of Saint Helena. In 1939, Lyman collaborated with May J. Hood to create the book “California Wild Flowers in Verse and Picture”. About a decade earlier, Helen Hoyt, Lyman’s wife, published two books of his poetry, “Apples in My Basket” and “Leaves of Wild Grapes”.
And finally, no Napa County author list would be complete without Jessamyn West (McPherson) and Arthur Hailey. West achieved commercial success with the publication of his novel about his Quaker roots titled “The Friendly Persuasion”. The screenplay was translated into a feature film starring Gary Cooper. Other works by West include “The Witch Diggers” and his autobiography, “To See the Dream”.