n Historia - Author, poet, teacher, Christian thinker, activist and penal reformer - a full, but not uncontroversial life
Alan Paton Selected Letters, P.F. Alexander (Ed.) : book review

Volume 54, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0018-229X
  • Author John Hoffman
  • Source : Historia, Volume 54, Issue 2, Nov 2009, p. 244 - 246
  • Accreditation : Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET)
    SciELO SA
    The International Bibliography of Social Sciences (IBSS)



This is a most useful and well-presented volume. As Phillips points out in his "Foreword", Paton (1903-1988) was not only the distinguished author of Cry the Beloved Country, but a school teacher, Christian thinker, organiser, political activist and penal reformer (p vii). This volume contains 350 letters of the 2 500 which survive. Paton was born in Pietermaritzburg and as a student at Natal University College, he began to write poetry. He also was President of the Student Representative Council. He became a teacher at Ixopo, married in 1928 and, after a serious illness in 1934, became a warden at an African reformatory in Diepkloof in what was then the Transvaal. Diepkloof had been an adult prison before being turned into a borstal for African youths. Paton worked to transform it into a school and the number of absconders fell dramatically. He felt passionately that his successes here could be applied to the country as a whole.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error