Jack Bethea was born and grew up in Birmingham, Ala. He was hired as a cub reporter for The Birmingham Age-Herald while he was still in high school. After graduating, Bethea continued as a reporter with the Age-Herald until 1916, when he became the city editor of The Birmingham Ledger. When the Ledger closed, he worked at a local department store briefly. In 1921, when The Birmingham Post started publication, Bethea was hired as a managing editor. In addition to his journalism career, he also wrote fiction and was a member of the Loafers' Club, a group of Birmingham writers.
Bethea's short stories and serial forms of his novels were published in national magazines such as Collier's. After the publication of his first novel, Bed Rock, in 1924, Bethea took six months off from the newspaper to work on another one. He returned to the Post as news editor and later became managing editor, then editor in 1927. Bethea published four novels between 1924 and 1928. Two were made into motion pictures: Coming Through (from his novel Bed Rock) in 1925 and Honor Bound in 1928. That same year, Bethea became despondent over his slow recovery from an illness. In July 1928, he committed suicide in a downtown Birmingham hotel.
Three of Jack Bethea's novels concern the coal mining industry. Honor Bound specifically addresses the convict-lease system. His last novel, Cotton, is about agriculture in Alabama.
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Last updated on Dec 12, 2009.