South African writer
Alan Paton was a white South African novelist and a dedicated political activist. Through his writing and his political efforts, he protested against racial injustice and apartheid.
Born and educated in Pietermaritzburg in the Natal province of South Africa, Paton worked as a schoolteacher. Then he served as the head of a reform school for African boys, where he tried to improve conditions for the students. In 1948 he published his first book, Cry, the Beloved Country, a novel about a black minister whose son is convicted of killing a white man. It enjoyed international acclaim and made readers around the world aware of South Africa's struggle with race relations.
Encouraged by his success, Paton left the reform school and devoted himself full-time to writing and fighting racism. In 1953, he helped found the anti-apartheid Liberal Party of South Africa and served as its national president. From 1960 to 1970, the government took away his passport to punish him for expressing his opposition to apartheid. His works of fiction include Too Late the Phalarope (1953), Tales from a Troubled Land (1961), and Ah, But Your Land Is Beautiful (1981). Paton also wrote essays, biographies, and a two-volume autobiography.