Errol Uys: Uys pronounced 'Ace'
Errol Lincoln Uys was ten when he wrote his first novella, penned on the back of worthless stock certificates tossed out by his mother. After high school, he worked as a law clerk for two years before becoming a reporter on the Johannesburg Star and was later editor of the Cape Town edition of Post. Moving to London, he was chief reporter for the South East London Mercury, before joining Reader's Digest in England. The magazine sent him back to Africa, where he founded the first South African editorial office, becoming editor-in-chief in 1972.
Five years later, he moved to the United States with his family, joining the Digest's world headquarters as a senior international editor. In 1977, the Digest assigned him to work with James A. Michener on his South African novel, The Covenant, a controversial collaboration covered in Working with James Michener.
Uyss historical novel, Brazil won the highest critical acclaim in the United Kingdom, Germany and France, where it was a bestseller. He also wrote the non-fiction book, Riding the Rails: Teenagers on the Move During the Great Depression. Now an American citizen, Uys has been a resident of Massachusetts since 1981 and lives in Dorchester, Boston.
From the author's website
This biography was last updated on 12/28/2010.
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An Interview with Errol Uys
How did you come to write "Riding the Rails: Teenagers on the move during the great depression"?
The book is a companion volume to the documentary, Riding the Rails, made by my son, Michael, and his wife, Lexy. When Michael and Lexy began work on the film seven years ago, their first step was to get a notice published in Modern Maturity, official magazine of AARP, the Association of American Retired Persons. They asked for stories from former boxcar boys and girls. They hoped for 100 or so replies. They received 3,000 letters. I had access to the letters plus 500 follow-up questionnaires and the transcripts of the filmed interviews.
What touched you most about the letters?
The total sincerity and honesty in the recollections of the boxcar boys and girls. Whether they rode the rails once or twice or hopped freights endlessly searching for jobs, the experience profoundly affected their lives. Not only when they were kids, but in shaping their character as adults. What struck me especially was the simple pride of letter writers in looking back on those hard times and how they handled them as mere children.
Describe some of the ways in which they coped with life on the road?
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