Author Info: Frank Yerby
Hometown: Augusta, Georgia
About: Born in Augusta, Georgia to Rufus Garvin Yerby, an African American, and Wilhelmina Smythe, who was caucasian. He graduated from Haines Normal Institute in Augusta and graduated from Paine College in 1937. Thereafter, Yerby enrolled in Fisk University where he received his Master's degree in 1938. In 1939, Yerby entered the University of Chicago to work toward his doctorate but later left the university. Yerby taught briefly at Florida A&M University and at Southern University in Baton Rouge.
Frank Yerby rose to fame as a writer of popular fiction tinged with a distinctive southern flavor. In 1946 he became the first African-American to publish a best-seller with The Foxes of Harrow. That same year he also became the first African-American to have a book purchased for screen adaptation by a Hollywood studio, when 20th Century Fox optioned Foxes. Ultimately the book became a 1947 Oscar-nominated film starring Rex Harrison and Maureen O'Hara. Yerby was originally noted for writing romance novels set in the Antebellum South. In mid-century he embarked on a series of best-selling novels ranging from the Athens of Pericles to Europe in the Dark Ages. Yerby took considerable pains in research, and often footnoted his historical novels. In all he wrote 33 novels.