On 11 January, 1903 Alan Steward Paton, author of Cry, the Beloved Country was born in Pietermaritzburg, Natal Province. Paton graduated from Maritzburg College in 1918; he went further to study at the University of Natal, where he graduated with distinction in physics. After leaving school, he became a science teacher in 1925. For three years he taught at Ixopo High School, and then moved to Pietermaritzburg to teach at Maritzburg College. In 1928 Paton married Doris Olive Francis, and two years later they had their first son, David who was followed by Jonathan in 1936. In 1930 Paton joined the South African Institute of Race Relations.
Paton wrote Cry, the Beloved Country, which was published in February of 1948, during a time in which he studied penal institutions in Europe, the United States and Canada. Less than a year after the publication of Cry, the Beloved Country, the National Party came to power in the Union of South Africa and instituted apartheid. The publication of Cry, the Beloved Country, which was a great success, allowed Paton to resign as principal of the reformatory to dedicate himself to his writing. The novel was soon adapted into a musical, "Lost in the Stars," by composer Kurt Weill and a film directed by Zoltan Korda on whose screenplay Paton contributed. In 1953 he formed Liberal Party which opposed apartheid system by offering a non-racial alternative to government policy.