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BACKGROUND INFORMATION - BIOGRAPHY
Alan Paton was born at Pietermaritzberg, Natal on January 11, 1903 to James and Eunice Paton. He graduated from the Natal University College with a degree in Mathematics and Physics. He was greatly interested in religious and dramatic activities. He dabbled in poetry, to amuse himself.
In 1925 he joined a native school, where he taught for three years. In 1928 he began teaching at Pietermaritzburg College, during that period he wrote several poems and two novels, but he destroyed the novels because he won’t be happy with them.
Then came his most fruitful innings as the Principal of Diepkloof Reformatory for juvenile delinquents in Johannesburg. There he introduces a system of ‘graduated freedom’ and changed the environs from a prison to a school. There he taught boys to adapt themselves to the world outside the prison so that societal pressures would not push them back to crime.
He wrote many articles for South African problems for periodical before writing his first novel Cry, the Beloved country (1948). His first novel was a tremendous success and staggered the readers with its honest appraisal of the South African situation. His other novels where, Debbie Go Home (1961), Too Late the Phalarope (1953) and Jan Hofmeyer (1965), a biography of the former Prime Minister of South Africa. His works have also been published in two Penguin anthologies, South African Writing today and The Penguin Book of South African verse.
After the coming of the Nationalist government, Paton took a plunge in the political arena. He was the founding member and president of the liberal party until its dissolution in 1968. In 1960, he was charged with treason and his passport was revoked by the government the same year he received the Freedom House Award (U.S.A) Paton was forbidden by the government to travel outside South Africa and was bound to Natal, for the rest of his life.