Frank Garvin Yerby was an African American historical novelist. He is best known as the African American writer to become a millionaire from his pen and to have a book purchased by a Holly wood studio for film.
Yerby was born in Augusta, GA. He was the son to Rufus Garvin Yerby and Wilhelmina Smythe Yerby. As a young boy, Yerby attended a private school for black students, the Haines Institute. After graduating high school, Yerby attended Paine College where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English and he later attended Fisk University where he received his Master of Arts in English in 1938.
It would take close to ten years for Yerby to acclaim writer status. His story “Health Card,” won the O. Henry Memorial Award for the best first published short story in 1944. In 1946, his first novel, “The Foxes of Harrow,” was an immediate success.
Yerby wrote popular fiction tinged with a distinctive southern flavor. He was the first African American to write a best-selling novel and to have a book purchased by a Hollywood studio for a film adaptation. During his prolific career, Yerby wrote 33 novels and sold more than 55 million hardback and paperback books worldwide.
Yerby spent most of his life in the South until discrimination caused him to leave and live in self-imposed exile in Madrid from 1955 until his death on November 29, 1991.