An excerpt from the Santa Barbara Writers Conference Scrapbook by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary:
A short distance South of Santa Barbara, the 2nd Annual SBWC got underway with Ray Bradbury as Keynote Speaker, Kenneth Rexroth conducting a poetry workshop, and Mel Torme promoting his new book, “I’d Rather Write than Sing.”
Building on the success of the first year, the Conrads produced a line-up of speakers that would be the envy of any well-established conference:
Budd Schulberg showed his landmark film, “On the Waterfront.” James Michener (Hawaii, the Pulitzer Prize winning Tales of the South Pacific and others), gave an evening address and Mel Torme explained why “I’d Rather Write Than Sing.”
Ross MacDonald (Ken Millar) spoke about “Writing, Mystery & Suspense,” and the afternoon speakers included Joan Didion (Slouching Towards Bethlehem and others), John Gregory Dunne (Vegas: A Memoir of a Dark Season and others), Alex Haley (Roots), Clifton Fadiman (Mathematical Magpie and others), and James Sheldon (radio broadcaster, “We, The People”).
By the end of the conference the SBWC had become an institution in Santa Barbara County, and in the world of writers and conferences, but not everyone was convinced.
After the second conference in 1974, Barnaby’s boyhood friend Headmaster Clark left Cate School and the new headmaster was concerned that the school was losing money on the deal the previous headmaster had made with the Conrads.
As a result of the new headmaster’s erroneous impressions of the conference, the SBWC moved to the Miramar Hotel in 1975.