Visit the places that inspired
'Cry the Beloved Country' and the
early life of Alan Paton

Natal University College 1919 - 1924

Paton became a student at Natal University College in 1919. He had been awarded a Natal Education Bursary, and enri=olled for a degree in Science with Mathematics as a major. His choice was governed by the requiremets of the Natal Education Department who had a shortage of teachers in the area of Science. In 1924 he received a BSc degree with distinction and a Higher Diploma in Education. Thus, the young Paton was now fully equipped to begin his teaching career.

It was while at Natal University College that Paton made some of his lifelong friends - Roy Pearse, Neville Nuttall, Railton (Joe) Dent, Cyril Armitage and Vic Harrison.

After joining the Dramatic society, Paton and Nuttall, who was in his first year, while Paton was already in his third, were cast as leading men in a play 'His Excellency the Governor' written by Frank Marshall. It was during this time that they both fell in love with the leading lady, Dorothy Turner. She in turn was quite an admirer of Paton, but this dalliance led nowhere.

It was also during this time, mostly influenced by Nuttall and Paton's membership of the Students Representative Council (SRC), that led Paton to believe that his Christadelphian upbringing was extreme, and that religious faith didn't have to be totally absorbed by prohibition and self-denial. This realisation led to a bout of rebellion. Paton began to smoke, and then moved on to drink, swaring and sex. This was shortlived, however, and Paton reverted back to the denial he was used to.


Nuttall perhaps sums up the future in this passage from his diary on September 10th 1923 -

From 'A literary Friendship-Alan Paton and Neville Nuttall' by Jolyon Nuttall, one of Nuttall's twin sons - "I have been talking to Alan - he always leaves a breath of fresh air behind him & bucks a chap up. He is right, I think, that our little Varsity here is going to leave its stamp on Natal - we are turning out big men & good men - particularly into educational fields & we have the future in our hands. We are going to lead & by Jove with men like Alan and Joe we are going to lead well".


Mafavuke House

Home of the Alan Paton Will Trust

Location map

The Alan Paton Centre
University of KwaZulu-Natal
Visit this centre situated in
Pietermaritzburg and
find a wealth of

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