Patrick D. Smith
1927 - 2014
Inducted in 1999
By any measure, Patrick D. Smith was among the most distinguished and beloved writers on Florida's culture and heritage. His prolific body of work brought him international acclaim marked by six nominations for the Nobel Prize for Literature and three nominations for the Pulitzer Prize.
Smith wrote six novels and three other books, but is perhaps best known for A Land Remembered (1984), an endearing story about three generations of pioneer Florida families. The book has been described as "the definitive story of Florida's emergence into modern day history."
A native of Mendenhall, Mississippi, Smith earned both a bachelor's and a master's degree in English from the University of Mississippi before embarking on a career in public relations. In 1953, he debuted as a novelist with The River is Home, a coming-of-age story set on the Pearl River in Southern Mississippi.
In 1966, he and his wife Iris, a native of Deland, moved to Florida where he accepted a post as director of public relations at Brevard Community College in Cocoa. His second novel, The Beginning (1967) chronicled the tumultuous civil rights struggle of the 1960s.
Settled as a Floridian, Smith became interested in the impact that development was having on his adopted state's natural resources and its residents–the Seminole Indians in particular. Two of his first novels, Forever Island (1973) and Allapattah (1979), describe the Seminole's struggle to cope with all the changes wrought by a soaring Florida population. A third novel, Angel City (1978), described the desperate plight of migrant workers in South Florida.
But it was his 1984 A Land Remembered that first brought Smith to the fore of national attention. The book was named "Editor's Choice" by the New York Times Book Review, and went on to win the Florida Historical Society's Tebeau Prize as the Most Outstanding Florida Historical Novel. Today, in readers' surveys, the book has repeatedly been voted as the best book on Florida's heritage ever written.
Smith's most recent novel was The Seas that Mourn (2001), a gripping saga of the U.S. Merchant Marine in World War II. In 2007, Panorama Studios released the award-winning "Patrick Smith's Florida: A Sense of Place," a documentary on his life. He lived in Merritt Island.
- Patrick Smith Online - http://www.patricksmithonline.com/