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Mezquida, Anna Blake. OAC

 
 

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Biographical History

Anna Blake Mezquida was the daughter of San Francisco attorney Maurice B. Blake. Her great-uncle, Maurice G. Blake, was a judge of the California Supreme Court, a mayor of San Francisco, and a member of the city's Committee of Vigilance. Ancestors of both her parents fought in the American Revolution. One maternal ancestor, Lieutenant Ebenezer Eastman, served as an aide to General George Washington. Her family lineage in the United States traces back to the arrival of the Mayflower.

Born in San Francisco on September 1, 1883, Mezquida won numerous local, state, and national poetry contests throughout her career, the first at age 16. In 1906, having just undergone a serious operation, she experienced the San Francisco earthquake and fire, and subsequently spent several months in the Presidio General Hospital. She married Mateo M. Mezquida, an importer and exporter from Madrid, Spain in 1911. Her poem, "The Wondrous Exposition," was set to music and became the theme song of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

She studied journalism at the University of California at Berkeley and became a popular poet, short story writer, scenarist, critic, and journalist. By the early 1920s, Mezquida had been published in such periodicals as Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Ladies' Home Journal, and Overland Monthly. In 1922 Mezquida published a book of her poems titled A-Gypsying.

Mezquida lost her husband to a heart attack in 1928 and remained unmarried the rest of her life. A serious automobile accident in 1933 left Mezquida with broken vertebrae, a fractured skull and injuries to her right arm, causing her to wear a back brace for several years. A lifelong staunch Republican, in 1938, Mezquida began a word of mouth effort to end a strike of San Francisco department store workers. The largely successful "Buy Now" telephone campaign, facilitated by women all over California, urged people to break the strike by shopping at stores as normal.

During World War II, in addition to working in the United States Office of Censorship and the Message Analysis Unit, she wrote radio broadcasts, both informational spots and dramatic programs, to be transmitted to the Armed Forces stationed in Thailand and the Philippines. After the war, Mezquida wrote for the radio station KFRC. She sold several scenarios to motion picture studios, among them "Dancing Feet," "The Charm Trader," and "What the World Expects." She was active in a number of literary organizations, including the Ina Coolbrith Circle, where she was on the Board of Directors, Theta Sigma Phi (a fraternity of women journalists), and the Authors' League of America, as well as serving as an executive of the San Francisco Branch of the League of American Pen Women. In the late 1940s, Mezquida, as part of the Citizens' Committee to Save the Cable Cars, was very active in an effort to save San Francisco's cable cars from being retired.

After a long and full career of writing, having been published in dozens of publications and awarded numerous prizes, Anna Blake Mezquida died in San Francisco on March 12, 1965 at the age of 81.

From the finding aid for Anna Blake Mezquida Papers, 1788-1975 (bulk 1898-1965) (Bancroft Library)

Poet, scenarist, critic, journalist, author of short stories, plays, and books, Mezquida (b. Sept. 1, 1883; d. Mar. 12, 1965) lived her entire life in San Francisco, Calif.

From the finding aid for Pictorial material from the Anna Blake Mezquida papers, circa 1860 -1965, , bulk circa 1900-1910 (Bancroft Library)

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