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Barnaby Conrad, Founder of Writers Conference, Dies

Barnaby Conrad
Barnaby Conrad

Barnaby Conrad, an accomplished writer and founder of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, died Tuesday at his home.

The 90-year-old author, artist and bullfighter had been in ill health, and had been under hospice care, according to friends.

He passed away at 5 a.m. Tuesday at his Carpinteria home.

“Now we live in all the wonderful, rich memories Barny created for us,” said friend Susan Gulbransen in an email Tuesday sharing news of Conrad’s passing.

Conrad was born in San Francisco, and attended the University of North Carolina.

He studied painting at the University of Mexico, where he took up bullfighting. After being injured in the ring, he graduated from Yale University in 1943.

He studied bullfighting in Spain, and was the only American to fight in Spain, Mexico and Peru. In 1958, he was gored almost fatally in a bullfight.

According to Conrad’s website, he worked as a secretary to famed novelist Sinclair Lewis in 1947, and John Steinbeck chose his best-selling novel “Matador” as his favorite book in 1952.

Conrad founded the Santa Barbara Writers Conference in 1973, inviting such well-known authors as Gore Vidal, Eudora Welty, Joan Didion and Ross MacDonald.

He and his wife Mary directed the conference until they sold it in 2004.

Funeral arrangements were pending Tuesday night.

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