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Author photo. Courtesy of the <a href="http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/id?1104692">NYPL Digital Gallery</a> (image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

Courtesy of the NYPL Digital Gallery (image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

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The Z in Laura Z. Hobson's name was her maiden name, Zametkin. She was born to a family of Russian Jewish refugees in New York City. Laura had a twin sister, Alice, and two brothers. Her father was a mathematician and socialist who became a labor organizer in the USA and editor of the Forverts (Jewish Daily Forward), then the most influential Yiddish-language newspaper in the country. Her mother also wrote for Yiddish papers and taught English to immigrant women. Laura graduated from Cornell University. In 1930, she married Thayer Hobson, the publisher of William Morrow & Co., with whom she co-authored two westerns. They divorced in 1935. Two years later, she adopted a son, Michael Z. Hobson, and in 1941, as a single woman, she gave birth to Christopher Z. Hobson. Fearful of social stigma, she had Christopher under an assumed name, and then adopted him. Her sons did not learn the truth until after they were grown. She worked as an advertising copywriter and as a promotional writer for Time, Life, and Fortune magazines before becoming a full-time writer in 1940. She was the author of nine novels, two children’s books, numerous short stories, and articles. She also edited the Double Crostics puzzles in the Saturday Review for 27 years. Many of her novels were semi-autobiographical. Her most famous book, Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) depicts the "polite" anti-Semitism of her day. It became a runaway hit and national bestseller, and was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film. The Tenth Month (1970), about a woman who chooses single parenthood, was made into a 1979 film. Although she did not call herself a feminist, Laura Z. Hobson's life as an independent woman and writer made her an important role model for women from the 1930s onward. At age 83, she published the first volume of her autobiography, Laura Z: A Life.
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