Harry Crews was born in Georgia on June 7, 1935. His childhood was marked by both physical and emotional pain. When he was two years old, he put lye in his mouth, burning his lips and tongue. Later, he was scalded with boiling water. At the age of five, his legs tightened up, pulling his heels to the backs of his thighs; he remained in bed like this for six weeks. In 1953, Crews became the first member of his family to graduate from high school. He served three years in the Marines, then entered the University of Florida on the G.I. Bill. While there, he enrolled in a creative writing class under Andrew Lytle, a distinguished novelist. After graduating, he taught at Broward Community College and wrote copy for Nelson Boswell's radio show "Challenge the Response." It was on this show that he learned the value of writing as a career. In 1968, Crews published his first novel, The Gospel Singer, the story of a young man from south Georgia with artistic talent who tries to break away from the community of his childhood. For the next 10 years, Crews published a novel almost every year, including Karate Is a Thing of the Spirit (1971), Car (1972), and The Gypsy's Curse (1974). A Feast of Snakes (1976) questions the future of a person who does not escape a pain-wracked childhood.