Napa History: KQED article on the origin of the Malfatti

From a Mistake to A Legend: Napa's Malfatti
Article by Lisa Morehouse with contribution from Lauren Coodley

Lauren's recent essays for Marketplace Magazine:

A Rumbling of Women - New Book chronicles Feminisim in Napa 1970-1990
"..a collection of memoirs—the unfiltered memories of some of the women who founded the Women’s Center and benefitted from its existence."

The Army of the Immortals: Reclaiming William Jacks
The unknown history of silversmith and nurseryman William Jacks

Your world for a moment: The Recovered History of Carl Franco
The story of a man who pressed flowers and belonged to the shirtmakers union

Current Publications:

The Same River Twice

Poems by Lauren Coodley

Contact Author for Purchase

Lauren Coodley’s "The Same River Twice" honors the people and places that have shaped her life.
This book is her first collection of poetry--a memoir in verse that begins with her earliest recollections and moves all the way into the present.

The Same River Twice

"In the midst of great change and sudden disasters, as bulldozers ravage the orchards of Napa and old friends die, Lauren Coodley writes of the stubborn determination of ordinary women to lead lives of beauty and meaning in passionate, lyrical poems of mourning, courage, persistence, survival, and celebration."
—Mary Mackey, poet and novelist, author of Sugar Zone

". . . I read a little at a time, savoring bright epiphanies. Lauren Coodley has a fine sense of rhythm and timing, but more importantly she has a sense of moments passing, flashbulbs of joy, of sorrow and of shame. She draws the reader into the work, letting them squeeze the grape of each line and savor the "sweet juice to wash the dirt down.""
—Kevin Fisher-Paulson, columnist, San Francisco Chronicle; author of A Song for Lost Angels

"Her compassion for people, acute powers of observation, and fine sensibility to the power of words and metaphor all contribute to this new collection. Her poems powerfully sculpt her life the way she once tried to sculpt her body with all its “hungers” (“Body Sculpture”) and reflect the wisdom she has gained through women mentors, friendships, solitude, and growing sense of mortality. Coodley’s collection sings: read it and enjoy!"
—Judy Wells, poet, Everything Irish, Call Home, and The Glass Ship

Napa Valley Chronicles by Lauren Coodley

Available from Napa Bookmine, The History Press, Copperfields Books and at the Napa Valley Wine Train station.

Napa Valley Chronicles 


In 1905, Napa’s mayor, J.A. Fuller, announced, “Napa for half a century has been slumbering in a Rip Van Winkle sleep but she has awakened at last.” Back then, fifteen cents bought coffee and a donut at the Depot and Sawyer’s Tannery made soft leather baseball gloves.

In this collection, local author Lauren Coodley reimagines the unvarnished country life of historic Napa Valley through the stories of notables like postmaster Ernest Kincaid, Napa Register reporter Phyllis King, firefighter historian Rita Bordwell and Brewster’s owners Rachel and Larry Friedman. Trace the region’s lasting legacy, from the time when a horse and buggy purchased Browns Valley to the days when art galleries replaced blue-collar businesses and the California grape took center stage from Sunsweet prunes.



"Lauren Coodley’s “Napa Valley Chronicles” is a book that crosses a number of genres and literary traditions. Part storytelling, part “oral history” and part personal memoir, the chronicles seem designed to become a kind of future cultural artifact of a valley that is on a journey of unrelenting transition. It is a book of literary snapshots – snippets and images – rapidly threading its way from the 19th and 20th centuries, and onto the very threshold of the 21st century."..."Published in 2013 by The History Press, the book succeeds in creating something that is truly unique: a kind of historical travelogue of Napa Valley characters who flicker in and out of focus like the portraits of an animator’s flip book. It’s a good and nourishing read with lots of historical photos."
Tom Stockwell, St.Helena Star Link

"I love the book! I got five copies through Amazon.com, and have already given some away, but I need more for some more members of my family. Of course, I loved to see my mother Phyllis King brought to life in the book, but I'm fascinated by every chapter. It's so interesting to see history told through the eyes of some less usual sources... women, minorities and ordinary people. You get a real feeling for the changes that occurred throughout the years in Napa, and how they affected everyone. Some stories are told from your personal point of view, which makes them very engaging. When you express nostalgia or regret for changes and transformations that occurred over time, it adds a real depth of feeling to the book. Great job!"
Liz Reyna

"From the extraordinary front cover photograph of Napa a century ago as farmland and orchards to the shimmering painting on the back cover, Napa Valley Chronicles is a delightful book. California historian Lauren Coodley has woven a rich and varied tapestry of stories and photographs from the 19th century to the present. Although I lived in Napa for 17 years and many of the names in this book are familiar, I never knew most of this history, including that Napa had a Chinatown, a Little Italy, and a neighborhood where descendants of the Mexican land grantees lived on streets bearing their names. (Full disclosure: my description of Terrace Drive, where I lived, is included in the book). I loved learning about pioneer women who farmed and raised livestock, Japanese laborers, a nurse at the Asylum (as Napa State Hospital was called), tannery workers, feminist leaders, and the many other ordinary people who are given a voice. This is people's history at its broadest and best."
By Nancy Manahan, on October 11, 2013

Upton Sinclair: California Socialist, Celebrity Intellectual by Lauren Coodley

Available Now from: University of Nebraska Press, and University Press Bookstore in Berkley

Listen to Lauren in audio interviews about this book; with New Books in American Studies , "Majority Report with Sam Seder" and  "Writers Voice" with Francesca Rheannon

Upton Sinclair

Had Upton Sinclair not written a single book after The Jungle, he would still be famous. But Sinclair was a mere twenty-five years old when he wrote The Jungle, and over the next sixty-five years he wrote nearly eighty more books and won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. He was also a filmmaker, labor activist, women’s rights advocate, and health pioneer on a grand scale. This new biography of Sinclair underscores his place in the American story as a social, political, and cultural force, a man who more than any other disrupted and documented his era in the name of social justice.


"In this engaging and ambitious biography Lauren Coodley takes a fresh perspective on the life of the zealous muckraker Upton Sinclair. Her book necessarily addresses many facets of Sinclair’s life that would be familiar to historians (such as the publication of The Jungle and the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906, Sinclair’s End Poverty in California (epic) program, and his ill-fated gubernatorial campaign in 1934). This book really shines in its treatment of lesser-known aspects of Sinclair’s socialism, such as his contemplations of historical Christianity and attempts to reconcile religion and socialism, and his scathing attacks on higher education..." —Justin Nordstrom, The Journal of American History - Sept. 2015

“Lauren Coodley’s perceptive account should awaken fresh interest in one of the twentieth century’s more fascinating cultural figures and his extraordinary—sadly, mostly forgotten—body of work.”—Julie Salamon, author of Wendy and the Lost Boys

“Upton Sinclair traversed the first half of the twentieth century like a rogue star. His prodigious writing and activism in the service of social justice perturbed the status quo, awakening millions to everything from appalling working conditions, poisoned food, and media bias to the rise of fascism and environmental decline. Yet his determination to lead a balanced and healthy life led some biographers to disparage him as less than a full man. Lauren Coodley rescues Sinclair from such critical condescension and reminds us of the many lives that he packed into one even as he moved the lives of both the common and the great.”—Gray Brechin, author of Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin

"Historian Coodley (California: A Multicultural Documentary History) narrates little-known aspects of Sinclair’s life, such as his gubernatorial campaign in California in 1934...Coodley’s biography should renew interest in the works of this passionate writer." Publishers Weekly Review

"Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil! was the basis for Paul Thomas Anderson’s film There Will Be Blood, and director David Schimmer has spoken of adapting Sinclair’s most influential novel, The Jungle. But who remembers that the muckraking author took an active hand in filmmaking? That’s one of the revelations in Lauren Coodley’s cogent, critical biography, Upton Sinclair: California Socialist, Celebrity Intellectual (published by University of Nebraska Press)..."
David Luhrssen, Express Milwaukee

"Perhaps you’ve seen the bumper sticker: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” Upton Sinclair was paying attention. This biography is a balanced but sympathetic look at the idealistic, passionate man who wrote The Jungle when he was just 25. ... Coodley emphasizes Sinclair’s support for temperance and women’s suffrage (and other feminist issues, including housework and childcare), and she shows how those issues fit together in the early 20th century. ... I enjoyed this well-edited account, which moved right along without undue verbiage, and yet gave a rounded, insightful sense of Sinclair and his times"
Historical Novel Society

"...an invaluable look at Sinclair’s full life and influential work and how much his long battle against worker oppression remains relevant in today’s corporate and media-driven world." — Carl Hays, Booklist


Napa State Hospital Cover Image

Napa State Hospital

By Patricia Prestinary, Foreword by Lauren Coodley. Arcadia Press, 2014

Napa, because of its natural beauty and optimal conditions for “moral treatment,” was chosen as the second site for a state hospital to ease overcrowding in Stockton Asylum. When the fully self-sustaining Napa Asylum opened in 1875, it quickly filled to capacity and became home to many people suffering from mental illness, alcoholism, grief, and depression. More

Also available for purchase at the Napa Valley Museum, Yountville.

Frankie's Journey cover thumbnail

Frankie's Journey: The Silk Road to Napa

By Stephanie Farrell Grohs and Lauren Coodley, with an afterword by Rue Ziegler. The Mousetail Press, 2014

Frankie’s Journey traces the 1908 trek of an imaginary San Francisco boy from his home at the Youth’s Directory, a Catholic charity in San Francisco, to St. Joseph’s Institute, an experimental farm in Napa County. There has never before been a book about this extraordinary experiment in the rehabilitation of street children utilizing the teaching of agricultural skills – including silk cultivation. More

Contact Author for Purchase

Press Democrat Review: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/3057940-181/napa-authors-unveil-century-old-school

Napa Valley Farming

Available now from Napa Bookmine, Arcadia Publishing, Copperfields Books and the Napa Wine Train station.

Napa Valley Farming Napa, California

Napans tend more than grapevines. The area's diverse soil and mild climate make possible a generous yield of agricultural products. This book traces the cultivation of these products through a chronology of Napa's farming history, from indigenous food plants to the orchards that were planted to feed gold miners -- orchards that would soon function as both therapy and sustenance for the patients in the newly created Asylum. Immigrants from Italy and Germany and Japan and China joined newly emancipated slaves and Mexican citizens who had settled here before the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Together they cultivated the land, picked the fruit, nuts, and hops, cut the wheat, kept bees, and tended livestock on dairy farms and cattle ranches. Each chapter begins with a poem inspired by farming or a recipe reflecting the valley's bounty. The scents of peaches, apples, cherries, pears, prunes, and honey linger in the imaginations of thousands of locals, while the trees, hives, and vines continue to thrive wherever placed.

Read more here...

St Helena Star - review link

Other Publications by Lauren:

The Land of Orange Groves and JailsNapa: The Transformation of an American TownCalifornia: A Multicultural Documentary HistoryIf not to History: Recovering the stories of Women in Napa

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