John Sanford

Author: John Sanford

John Sanford is the name of the principal character in The Water Wheel, a first novel by Julian Shapiro published in 1933. Adopting it as a pseudonym, the writer has used it ever since. Born in the Harlem section of New York on 31 May 1904, he attended the public schools of that city, Lafayette College, and finally Fordham University, where he earned a degree in Law. He was admitted to the Bar in 1929, and at about the same time, influenced by his friend Nathanael West, he too began to write. Published at the outset in vanguard magazines of the period- The New Review, Tambour, Pagany, Contact- he soon abandoned the legal profession and produced through the years a series of eight novels. Concerned always with the course of American history, he interspersed his fiction with critical commentaries on the national life from the Left-Liberal point-of-view. As a result of such dissent, he was summoned before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and for refusing to cooperate with it, he was blacklisted. In spite of difficulty in obtaining publication, he continued to write in his chosen vein, ultimately stripping his work down to its historical content only.