James Saxon Childers
Childers was the son of Hayden Prior and Patti Undine Childers of Norwood. He attended public schools and served in World War I. In 1915 he earned a fellowship from the Danforth Foundation to attend Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. He left school to serve as a US Navy pilot in World War I, then returned and completed his bachelor's degree in 1920. He taught in Birmingham for a year before going to Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship to study history and literature. He completed a second bachelor's degree and a master's there.
In 1925 Childers returned to Birmingham as a professor of literature and creative writing at Birmingham-Southern College. He published his first novel, Laurel and Straw (about an American Rhodes Scholar at Oxford) in 1927 and his second, Hilltop in the Rain (set in a small Southern college) in 1928. His best-known work, A Novel About a White Man and a Black Man in the Deep South, an argument in favor of racial integration, was published in 1936.
Childers also became recognized for his travel writing. He published several widely-read "studies" of adventures in Asia, Africa and South America during the 1930s, while also moonlighting as a reporter, columnist and book reviewer for the Birmingham News. Friends and colleagues of Erskine Ramsay convinced Childers to tackle a biography of the well-known industrialist and philanthropist, which was published in 1942.
1942 was a momentous year for Childers. He left Birmingham-Southern, married Maurine White, and returned to military service as an Air Force intelligence officer in World War II. His next group of novels concerned the adventures of an army aviator and intelligence officer. After the war he and his wife settled in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
In 1951 Childers and his wife moved to Atlanta where he joined the staff of the Atlanta Journal. He was forced to resign in 1956 over a conflict with the publisher regarding his progressive views on race relations. He was hired to lecture on American culture in Asia by the United States Department of State and founded the publishing company of Tupper and Love, Inc. in Atlanta.
Childers died of cancer in 1965 and is buried at Elmwood Cemetery. His papers are archived at the Birmingham Public Library Archives and at the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina.
- Childers, James Saxon (1927) Laurel and Straw. New York: D. Appleton & Company
- Childers, James Saxon (1928) Hilltop in the Rain. New York: D. Appleton & Company
- Childers, James Saxon (1930) The Bookshop Mystery
- Childers, James Saxon (1930) Through Oriental Gates: The Adventures of an Unwise Man in the East. New York: D. Appleton & Company
- Childers, James Saxon (1933) God Save the Duke
- Childers, James Saxon (1936) A Novel About a White Man and a Black Man in the Deep South. New York: Farrar & Rinehart
- Childers, James Saxon (1936) Sailing South American Skies. New York: Farrar & Rinehart
- Childers, James Saxon (1941) Mumbo, Jumbo, Esquire: A Tale About the Two Africas
- Childers, James Saxon (1942) Enemy Outpost
- Childers, James Saxon (1942) Erskine Ramsay: His Life and Achievements. New York: Cartwright & Ewing
- Childers, James Saxon (1943) War Eagles: The Story of the Eagle Squadron. New York: D. Appleton-Century Co
- Childers, James Saxon (1960) The Nation on the Flying Trapeze: The United States as the People of the East See Us. New York: David McKay Co.
- Childers, James Saxon, ed. (1963) Listen to Leaders in Business
- Childers, James Saxon, ed. (1964) A Way Home: The Baptists Tell Their Story. New York: Holt Rinehart-Winston
- Childers, James Saxon, ed. (1965) Listen to Leaders in Engineering
- Parker, Julia (1959) "James Saxon Childers: A Bio-Bibliography" Ph.D. dissertation. Florida State University
- McWilliams, Tennant S. (1988) "James Saxon Childers and Southern Liberalism in the 1930s.". introduction to the 1988 republication of A Novel About a White Man and a Black Man in the Deep South by the University of Alabama Press
- Mitchell, Samuel J. (April 7, 2010) "James Saxon Childers" Encyclopedia of Alabama - accessed February 1, 2011
- James Saxon Childers at "This Goodly Land: Alabama's Literary Landscape"