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Wrote 'Gentleman's Agreement' : Author Laura Hobson Dies of Cancer at 85

March 02, 1986|From Times Wire Services

NEW YORK — Laura Hobson, author of the pioneering novel on anti-Semitism in America, "Gentleman's Agreement," has died of cancer. She was 85.

A New York Hospital spokeswoman said the writer, whose career spanned six decades and included nine novels, an autobiography and hundreds of short stories, died Friday night.

Hobson's fame was secured with the publication in 1947 of "Gentleman's Agreement," a portrait of insidious anti-Semitism in post-war America. It took her nearly four years to write it.

The critically acclaimed novel told the story of a Gentile writer posing as a Jew to try to understand anti-Semitism first-hand for a magazine article. A motion picture based on the book was also a great success, winning an Academy Award for best film in 1947.

Hobson's writing career began in the early 1930s when she wrote copy for an advertising agency. She later became a reporter for the New York Post and, in 1934, joined the promotion staff of the Luce publications, Time, Life and Fortune magazines. In 1935, she produced her first short story.

In 1940, Hobson gave up her position as promotion director for Time magazine to devote herself completely to creative writing.

Hobson, whose father was a Russian immigrant and editor of the Jewish Daily Forward, was born in New York City on June 19, 1900. Her marriage to Thayer Hobson in 1930 ended in divorce five years later.

She is survived by her two children and two grandchildren. There will be no funeral, at her request.

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