She was born Dorothy Dodds on April 21, 1907 in Missoula, Montana and raised in California. Baker attended Whittier College, then transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles, from which she graduated in 1929. This is where she met her future husband, the poet Howard Baker whom she married in 1930.
In 1938 she wrote her first novel, Young Man with a Horn, based on the life of cornet player Bix Beiderbecke. The novel was a success and she won a Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship. In 1950, it was made into a movie of the same name with Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall, and Doris Day. Baker received a Guggenheim Fellowship for her next book in 1942.
After the failure of her play, she went back to writing novels. The next one was Our Gifted Son in 1948. She then wrote Cassandra at the Wedding in 1962, whose subject was identical twin sisters who were especially close. Baker's husband said that this novel was based on the couple's own two daughters.
In 1967, she co-wrote the script of The Ninth Day in Playhouse 90. The subject of this episode is a young man living in a group just after World War Three. When he tries to leave, he is forced by the elders to stay and marry the only young woman in the group.
- Dorothy & Howard Baker bios from Stanford
- Answers.com page
- Author bio from New York Review Books
- 1929 Yearbook photo
- The papers of Dorothy and Howard Baker, 1926-1990 (33 linear ft.) are housed in the Department of Special Collections and University Archives at Stanford University Libraries