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Biography

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Overview (4)

Born in Augusta, Georgia, USA
Died in Madrid, Spain
Birth NameFrank Garvin Yerby
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Frank Garvin Yerby was born in Augusta, Georgia, on September 5th, 1916, the son of a black hotel doorman, Rufus Garvin Yerby and his white wife, Wilhelmina. He attended private elementary and high school, the Haines Institute, predominately black, and received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Paine College. He received a Master of Arts in English from Fisk University in 1938, yet it would be close to seven years before his first story, "Health Card", winner of the O. Henry Memorial Award for best first published short story in 1944, started him on his career.

In 1946 his first novel, "The Foxes of Harrow", was an immediate success. So much so that Frank Yerby became the first African American novelist to reach the Best Seller Lists in the United States. Ironically, the following year, after 20th Century Fox bought the screen rights, Mr. Yerby became the first African American novelist to have a movie adapted by a major Hollywood studio.

His novels are mostly action-packed period pieces, usually featuring a strong white hero in conflict with his times. His stories usually played out in colorful language and include characters of all ethnic backgrounds, with an emphasis on black, or "Negro" characters. He chose this course after every publisher rejected his first novel, an action adventure with a strong "Negro" lead. After that, he told his stories amid the pure white environment publishers demanded.

Frank Yerby rose to fame as a writer of popular fiction awash with a distinctive "old south" flavor. During his career, he wrote thirty-three novels and sold more than seventy million hardback and paperback books worldwide.

As a Black author, though, Mr. Yerby was criticized for not paying more attention to the plight of "his race." Though he said that writers should entertain and not preach to their readers, it is generally accepted that his novels stripped back the hideous double standards of the "old south", including lacerating portraits of Klansmen, white slave owners and their like.. The depth of racial discrimination in the United States caused Yerby to leave his native land and live a self-imposed exile in Madrid, Spain from 1955 until his death November 29th 1991 in Madrid, Spain.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Keith Kjornes

Spouse (2)

Blanca Call-Perez (27 July 1956 - 29 November 1991) (his death)
Flora Helen Claire Williams (1 March 1941 - ?)

Trivia (2)

African-American best-selling author of action-filled romantic period fiction. Yerby's short story "Health Card" won a special O. Henry Memorial Award for a first published short story in 1944. His first novel, The Foxes of Harrow, was incredibly successful; published in 1946, by the end of the year it had sold over a million copies. He went on to publish 31 more novels. In the latter half of his life, Yerby lived in France and then in Spain.
With wife Flora Helen Claire Williams, he had four children: Jacques Loring, Nikki Ethlyn, Faune Ellena, and Jan Keith.

Personal Quotes (3)

I attend the Catholic church on the rare occasions that I go to church, but I am a member of no specific sect, although I consider myself a Christian in a vague sort of way. I belong to no political party. I vote for the man and the issue, regardless of party lines.
I was fat, shy, would rather read than eat.... Boyhood was dull.
The novelist hasn't any right to inflict on the public his private ideas on politics, race, or religion.

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