Sofi O'Bryan

The writer, then known as
Sophia Kondos, at the
time of her marriage in 1945.

Sofi O’Bryan was born Sophia Kondos, the second of four children, on Dec. 11, 1918, in East Moline, IL. Her parents immigrated from Greece, marrying in East Moline in 1917. She graduated high school in East Moline, where she was noted to be a good writer. After graduation, she worked in a foundry (likely the Rock Island Arsenal), and in 1940 was the biggest breadwinner of her family (her parents did not work), bringing in $1,030 in 1939. But Sofi had bigger aspirations: One day early on in World War II, she walked into the office of The Dispatch, the city newspaper of Moline, and begged for a job. “Well, nearly all the men reporters were in the army, the navy, or the marines,” said editor Fred Klann in an article about her written in 1953, so she was given a job, and “she did work her head off. She was anxious to learn. She’d do anything, or try it.” She covered a wide range of stories, from movie and theater reviews to covering the police beat.

While Sofi was on vacation in New York visiting a friend, she met James O’Bryan, a Navy sailor home on leave, and the pair hit it off. James was born at Guantanamo, back when it was a Navy base, to an American sailor and a Cuban mother in 1917, arriving in the U.S. in 1919. He grew up in Manhattan speaking Spanish, and married a Puerto Rican woman in 1936 when he was 18 and she was 20. They had a son three years later. The marriage apparently dissolved after 1940, and he enlisted in 1943.

In 1945 she moved to New York to marry James just a month after he returned from a three-year stint in the war. After their marriage, she worked as an associate editor of True Confessions magazine before becoming a freelance writer for magazines and television. “It was New York that changed her first name, not marriage,” reports a 1948 squib in her home paper, The Dispatch, remarking on the alteration of the spelling of her first name from Sophia to Sofi. She wrote at least three nurse novels under the pen name Tracy Adams. Her husband worked for William Randolph Hearst as an art director for the New York Mirror and drew cartoons; some of his work was published in The New Yorker. He founded an art agency that did the promotion for William F. Buckley’s National Review. They had two children together, and he died in 1983 at age 65; she lived to be 97 and died in 2016.

A biography in the book Spotlight on Nurse Thorne published by Ace Books (D-549) in 1962, reads: “Tracy Adams has written extensively for womens magazines, has been on the staff of several such periodicals, and has worked as a reporter for a midwestern daily. Married to a commercial artist, she is the mother of two children and now makes her home on Long Island. She says of this novel: 'Before I became a reporter, I wanted to be a nurse, and did some hospital work. Nurse Thorne came into being when the lovely daughter of a friend of mine gave up a stage career to enter nursing. If I weren't a writer, I’d be a nurse today.’ ”

Some internet sources suggest that the pen name Tracy Adams was used by Arlene Hale, but this is incorrect. Two books credited to author Tracy Adams (Spotlight on Nurse Thorne and Hotel Nurse), in their listings in the Library of Congress Catalog of Copyright Entries, are credited to Sofi O’Bryan. A 1968 article in The Dispatch also notes that Sofi was using the pseudonym.

Hotel Nurse, by Tracy Adams, ©1964, Ace
Spotlight on Nurse Thorneby Tracy Adams, ©1962, Ace (also Nurse Thorne’s New Role)
Washington Nurseby Tracy Adams, ©1963, Avon


The Moth and the Flame, by Tracy Adams,* 1981, Silhouette Books
Roman Candles, by Tracy Adams,* 1981, Pocket Books (another edition lists Sofi O’Bryan as the author)
The Secret of the Priory, by Sofi O’Bryan©1975, Candlelight Gothic

* I am not sure if these books, published by author Tracy Adams, are written by Sofi O’Bryan or another writer of the same (pen)name.


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