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Frank Yerby (1916-1991)

Frank Yerby was one of the most popular and successful African-American novelist of the 20th century.

He wrote more than 30 novels, most of which are historical romances. His novels made him rich but brought him little critical acclaim; rather, his works sold in the millions while being dismissed by most critics as melodramatic potboilers aimed solely at the cash register. He was also consistently attacked for betraying his race by not continuing to write the social protest fiction.

Yerby was born in Augusta, George in 1916 and graduated from Paine College (1937) and Fisk University, (M.A. 1938), he then taught at various southern colleges. During the war he worked a laboratory technician for the Ford Motor Company, and turned to writing full time in 1945 and his works were immediately successful. However, he never obtained acceptance by either black or white American writers, and moved permanently to Spain in 1954, where he died in 1991.

Yerby's work ranges widely in history. His first novel, The Foxes of Harrow, which is set in Louisiana, was a gigantic success, and it has been followed by a number of antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction novels, including The Vixens, Floodtide, A Woman Called Fancy, Benton's Row, Griffin's Way, and A Darkness at Ingraham's Crest. As a result, Yerby was associated with the romance of the old South, but it is hardly a `moonlight and magnolias' South, though all of the trappings of the Old South are present--white-columned mansions on huge plantations, extensive description of food, manners, etc. Instead, it is a world of greedy entrepreneurs, racists, and blind chauvinists, where wealth and position are more important than humanity. When not writing about his native South, Yerby moved back in time from the French and American Revolutions (The Devil's Laughter and Bride of Liberty), through the 17th century (The Golden Hawk), the Middle Ages (An Odor of Sanctity and The Saracen Blade), the time of Christ (Judas, My Brother) to ancient Greece (Goat Song). He did extensive research for his novels and they will often contain notes and references. Nevertheless, the basic plot is always the same - heroic male, emotionally immature and an even more immature beautiful heroine, the lovers often separated by social circumstances, caught up in the turmoil of various historic events.

His work was hugely popular and many of his works were published as Book Club Editions. Three novels, were adapted for movies: The Foxes of Harrow (1947). The Golden Hawk (1952), and The Saracen Blade (1954).
Find available works by: Frank Yerby
Works by Frank Yerby:
  • The Foxes of Harrow. New York: Dial Press (1946); London: Heinemann (1947)
  • The Vixens. New York: Dial Press (1947); London: Heinemann (1948)
  • The Golden Hawk. New York: Dial Press (1948); London: Heinemann (1949)
  • Pride's Castle. New York: Dial Press (1949); London: Heinemann (1950)
  • Floodtide. New York: Dial Press (1950); London: Heinemann (1951)
  • A Woman Called Fancy. New York: Dial Press (1951); London: Heinemann (1952)
  • The Saracen Blade. New York: Dial Press (1952); London: Heinemann (1953)
  • The Devil's Laughter. New York: Dial Press (1953); London: Heinemann (1954)
  • Benton's Row. New York: Dial Press (1954); London: Heinemann (1955)
  • Bride of Liberty. New York: Dial Press (1954); London: Heinemann (1955)
  • The Treasure of Pleasant Valley. New York: Dial Press (1955); London: Heinemann (1956)
  • Captain Rebel. New York: Dial Press (1956); London: Heinemann (1957)
  • Fairoaks. New York: Dial Press (1957); London: Heinemann (1958)
  • The Serpent and the Staff. New York: Dial Press (1958); London: Heinemann (1959)
  • Jarrett's Jade. New York: Dial Press (1959); London: Heinemann (1960)
  • Gillian. New York: Dial Press (1960); London: Heinemann (1961)
  • The Garfield Honor. New York: Dial Press (1961); London: Heinemann (1962)
  • Griffin's Way. New York: Dial Press (1962); London: Heinemann (1963)
  • The Old Gods Laugh: A Modern Romance. New York: Dial Press and London: Heinemann (1964)
  • An Odor of Sanctity. New York: Dial Press (1965); London: Heinemann (1966)
  • Goat Song: A Novel of Ancient Greece. New York: Dial Press (1967); London: Heinemann (1968)
  • Judas, My Brother: The Story of the Thirteenth Disciple. New York: Dial Press & London: Heinemann (1969)
  • Speak Now. New York: Dial Press (1969); London: Heinemann (1970)
  • The Dahomean. New York: Dial Press (1971); as The Man from Dahomey, London: Heinemann (1971)
  • The Girl from Storyville: A Victorian Novel. New York: Dial Press & London: Heinemann (1972)
  • The Voyage Unplanned. New York: Dial Press & London: Heinemann (1974)
  • Tobias and the Angel. New York: Dial Press & London: Heinemann (1975)
  • A Rose for Ana Maria. New York: Dial Press & London: Heinemann (1976)
  • Hail the Conquering Hero. New York: Dial Press (1977); London: Heinemann (1978)
  • A Darkness at Ingraham's Crest. New York: Dial Press (1979); London: Granada (1981)
  • Western: A Saga of the Great Plains. New York: Dial Press (1982); London, Granada (1983)
  • Devilseed. New York: Doubleday & London: Granada (1984)
  • McKenzie's Hundred. New York: Doubleday (1985); London: Grafton (1986)

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