Florida’s Most Beloved Storyteller


Family life has always been a priority for Patrick Smith. Here, circa 1951, Iris tends to the catch of the day while Pat and daughter Jane look on.

“My favorite book is A Land Remembered. My name is Saige Osceola and I am a Miccosukee Indian. I am 11 years old and my favorite author is Patrick D. Smith.

“I can relate to Tawanda because I am an Indian like she was in the book.”

Young Saige gives us a hint as to the impact of Patrick Smith’s unique brand of Florida literature. In fact, in 2002, the Florida Historical Society named Smith the “Greatest Living Floridian.” Smith’s body of work has even earned him a nomination for the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The Florida author’s story actually begins in Mississippi, where he was born on October 8, 1927. Smith notes a special significance to the day of his birth: it was the day Charles Lindbergh passed through Mississippi on the cross-country tour he made in the aftermath of his historic transatlantic flight.

Patrick Smith’s first experience of the state with which he would become forever associated came when, along with his parents and two brothers, he traveled through Florida as a young boy during the Depression. In the 1930s, the Smith family camped extensively around the state, journeying to Pensacola, through the Panhandle, down to Miami, and then up the east coast through Vero Beach before returning home to Mississippi.

Graduating from Ole Miss, Patrick Smith took up two jobs, owning both a car dealership and a cattle ranch in his home town of Mendenhall, Miss. In 1959 he also began a lifelong career in public relations, working for Hinds Junior College in Raymond, Miss., and then the Sperry Rand Corporation in Jackson. But it is his moonlighting career as a writer for which he has become renowned.

Read the entire article in the November 2010 issue

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