The Alan Paton Centenary Lecture:
‘Alan Paton: a celebration of his life’
An audience of about one hundred people enjoyed the 10th Alan Paton Lecture, held on 15 May 2003.
“A good buzz” and “A happy atmosphere” were some of the positive comments made. The audience enjoyed Dr Peter Brown’s reminiscences of the times he shared with Alan Paton in the Liberal Party; Prof Colin Gardner’s erudite talk on the writing of Cry, the beloved country, and Jonathan Paton’s humorous and lively account of Paton family life. This was followed by a video which “brought Paton to life”, and sociable chats with old friends over drinks and snacks.
The full text of the speeches made by Dr Brown or Prof Gardner are available for reading at the APC, or can be requested by email. A video and tape were made of the Lecture, and these and transcripts will be available at the APC for those who missed the event.
Alan Paton’s Pietermaritzburg Centenary Tour:
The next morning, 16 May 2003, a group set off in three vehicles to explore Paton’s Pietermaritzburg. The tour started at the old Liberal Party offices in Longmarket Street, now the Lambert Wilson Library, part of the Natal Society Library, where Prof Gardner spoke about the Liberal Party in the 1950s and 1960s.
The group then moved on to Paton’s childhood home at 19 Pine Street, where Joicelyn Leslie-Smith, former librarian of the APC, spoke about Paton’s childhood. The next stop was Russell High School, formerly Berg Street Girls’ School, where Paton completed the first three years of his schooling in one year, 1909.
The tour then moved on to Maritzburg College, at which Paton was a pupil from 1914 – 1918, and a teacher from 1928 – 1935. They were shown the plaque on which Paton was asked to write a poem in wet concrete in 1963, the dining hall and the room of one of Paton’s teachers, ‘Fluff’ Abbit, in the old building, Clarke House.
The last stop was at the University of Natal (now the University of KwaZulu-Natal), where Paton was a student from 1919 – 1924. First the group visited the Old Main Hall, now the Colin Webb Hall, which used to be the library at that time. They were regaled with stories by Jonathan Paton, who also was a student at UNP in the 1950s. The tour finished with tea at the APC.