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Harry Vernon at Prep by Franc Smith
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Harry Vernon at Prep (1959)

by Franc Smith

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You have probably heard mention of this teacher shortage.
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Some confusion over author's identity. According to “Hawk’s Authors’ Pseudonyms III,” Frank Dennis Smith was Franc Smith and Francis Smith was S.F.X. Dean. Google Books lists S.F.X Dean as the author of Harry Vernon. A New York Times article, (By, LEWIS NICHOLS. 1959. "IN AND OUT OF BOOKS." New York Times (1923-Current File), Mar 01, 1. http://search.proquest.com/docview/11...), points out that the author's name on the copyright line is Francis D. Smith, and continues "this shortening of signature is not an attempt by an author to provide a pen name more in keeping with the raffishness of a Harry Vernon. Franc is a family diminutive, no more. However, it was Francis who was a clinical psychologist, holds a Phi Betta Kappa key, currently teaches a great deal of history in the high school of one of Boston's suburbs. In casual conversation, the Francis clearly is dominant. Mr. Smith is a very serious young man, particularly about teaching. There is non of the beat and off-beat slang of narrator Harry Vernon, and his reading is Jacques Maritain rather than Rabelais and followers. "I once wanted to be a cleaver young man," he says. "How I worked at that, for years. Now I think I'm not too ashamed to just be naive."Mr. Smith thought about Harry for two years, wrote it in five weeks. Sans agent, he mailed it in to Houghton Mifflin, and six weeks alter "a nice young man took me to lunch and gave me a contract." He himself did teach at a prep school, but that was for girls, and there is no connection between school and book. He has also written plays, in fact fifteen of them, with four still in being but none thus far produced. He is inclined to regard his avocation as playwright rather than novelist, but at the moment is 30,000 words into a second novel. Such time as remains from vocation of teaching and avocation of writing, he devotes to being a "good suburban father." For reasons, witness:He is an eleventh child, the "tail end of a large, sprawling Irish clan." The Smiths have six of their own. Let writers who can write only in quiet consider the peace this household must have. There, the children are aged in years 7, 6, 5, 3, 1 1/2, 1/4.Said Newgate Callendar in a New York Times review of Ceremony of Innocence (15 July 1984): “S. F. X. Dean, whose real name is Francis Smith, is a professor of humanities at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. He concentrated in Chinese studies at Harvard and during World War II was a weather analyst in the Pacific for the Navy.”Charles Poore, in Books of the Times, (New York Times, Feb 28, 1959) reviews the book and describes Franc Smith as 'a young, New England schoolmaster who graduated from Harvard a few years ago," and believes that Mr. Smith has published a book previously because the grim genuineness of of Harry Vernon's bitterness over the rewards he received from his publisher for his book, The Student'.WorldCat also lists S.F.X. Dean as the author of Harry Vernon.The publications dates of the S.F.X. Dean books in WorldCat is suggestive. Harry Vernon (1959), The Proper Study of Mankind- Reconsidered (Hampshire College, Amhesrt, Mass., 1969), and then the mystery novels that were published from 1982 to 1985.
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