Paton, Alan pā´tən [key], 1903–88, South African novelist. A devoted leader in the struggle to end the oppression of the South African blacks, he served (1935–47) as principal of the Diepkloof Reformatory (near Johannesburg) for delinquent boys, where he instituted many reforms. After the publication of his first novel, Cry, the Beloved Country (1948), he became active in South African political affairs. He helped form the Liberal Association of South Africa, which later emerged as a political party. Paton's fiction, written with simplicity and compassion, reflects the deep conflicts that continue to exist in South Africa today. His second novel, Too Late the Phalarope, appeared in 1953, and Tales from a Troubled Land, a collection of short stories, in 1961. Among his other works are South Africa in Transition (1956); Hope for South Africa (1958); The Long View (1968), a volume of essays; and For You Departed (1969), a memoir and tribute to his wife. Maxwell Anderson's play Lost in the Stars (1948) was based on Cry, the Beloved Country.
See biography by P. F. Alexander (1995).
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