Havilah Babcock (1898—1964) was a native of Virginia, educated at the University of Virginia and the College of William and Mary. From 1927 to 1954 he was chairman of the English Department of the University of South Carolina, a popular teacher and well-known campus personality. Like the fictional teacher in Caroline Gordon’s Aleck Maury, Sportsman, and like the earlier South Carolina writer William Elliott, Babcock’s real vocation was hunting and fishing .
Beginning in the 1930s Babcock regularly contributed hunting and fishing sketches to such journals as Field and Stream, Outdoor Life, and others. His seemingly simple but carefully crafted writings were concentrated in the sportsman’s paradise of the South Carolina Low Country. The reader gets a rich view of the character of bass, bream, quail, hunting dogs, Southern people both black and white, and affluent visiting Northerners, all portrayed with insight, humour, and tolerance.
Babcock’s work has remained popular and My Health is Better in November, containing 35 stories, was republished in 1985. The used book market gives access to this book and Babcock’s other collections: Tales of Quails ‘n Such, Jaybirds Go to Hell on Friday, and I Don’t Want to Shoot and Elephant.