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2019 Quest for Women Authors > Carolien's 2019 South African Women Authors Challenge

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message 2: by Brina (new)

Brina Carolien, I am always on the lookout for African authors. This sounds like an amazing challenge. I am going to file most of these for future challenges of my own.


message 3: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (korrick) | 2592 comments A very creative approach to this challenge, Carolien. I'm looking forward to your thoughts on these works.


message 4: by Erin (new)

Erin (erinm31) | 609 comments Great idea! Good luck with your challenge! 😃


message 5: by Sara, Old School Classics (new)

Sara (phantomswife) | 5467 comments Mod
What an interesting idea for the challenge, Carolien. I hope you enjoy the reads. I have never read any of them, so I can see I need to expand my reading of South African writers.


message 6: by Pink (new)

Pink | 6554 comments Good luck with your challenge. Like others have commented already, I’ll be looking out to see what you think of your selections.


message 7: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new)

Bob | 4959 comments Mod
The more women’s challenges I check out the more isolated and lost I feel. Dozens and dozens of authors and books completely unknown to me. Enjoy!!


message 8: by Carolien (last edited Dec 30, 2019 05:00AM) (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) | 549 comments It took me a year and some help from a friend at a research library to research this challenge. It says a lot about the bias towards US/British authors on places like Goodreads that I found Wikipedia more helpful in many instances for author profiles, etc. In the interest of putting that research to some use, I'm going to record a list here especially for the early authors.

The basic criteria was that the author must have lived in South Africa at some point (especially applicable to the older authors).

The development of the list tells us quite a bit about the influence of colonialism on literature in countries like South Africa. The early female authors are British born and it is only towards the 1970's that books appear by authors of colour which reflects a combination of the low literacy rates, effects of apartheid education and a good dose of sexism in the society. From the 1960's, apartheid runs like a golden thread through the literature with books appearing by a number of activists.

1850: Jasper Lyle by Harriet Ward (the author link is not correct) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet...

1862: Letters from the Cape by Lady Duff-Gordon https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucie,_...

1883: The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner

1890's: Cecile: a tale of the great native rebellion of 1850-53 by Gussie Rudolph (1894)

An Afternoon Ride by Anne Page (1897) https://smile.amazon.com/Afternoon-Ri...

The Gentleman Digger by Anne de Bremont (1894) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_de... and A Son of Africa: A Romance (1899)

1900: Cynthia Stockley - she wrote a number of books from 1903 - 1930 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynthia...

1910: Sarah Gertrude Millin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_M...

Dorothea Fairbridge wrote a number of books (they don't come much more imperial than this lady!) including A History of South Africa https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothe...

Wild Deer by Ethelreda Lewis

Good Measure: A Novel of S. African Interest

Pot Holes: An Adventure of the Diamond Fields


message 9: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (korrick) | 2592 comments It's wonderful to see the amount of effort you've put into this challenge, Carolien. I've noticed the discrepancies between Wiki and GR myself during my work on 500 Great Books By Women group. Hopefully your reading propagates exposure and helps fill in some of the gaps, however demographically imbalanced those gaps end up being.


message 10: by Carolien (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) | 549 comments It would not have been possible to do a challenge like this prior to the arrival of ebooks. I am extremely grateful to the many publishers who are are converting old editions into ebooks.


message 11: by Carolien (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) | 549 comments I amused myself with The Diary Of Iris Vaughan yesterday - I received a copy of the book as a reading prize in primary school years' ago and have reread it a few times.

Written by Iris Vaughan at about the age of 10 to 14, it chronicles the life of her family in the Eastern Cape from about 1899 - 1904. Her father was a magistrate, so the family moved whenever he was posted to a new town. The book covers memories from Cradock, Maraisburg, Adelaide and Fort Beaufort. Told with the innocence and honesty of a child, it provides an interesting view on the attitude of society and daily life of the time.


message 12: by Carolien (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) | 549 comments I completed my second book. Dr James Barry was the first female Surgeon-General of the British Army having served in South Africa and various other places around in the globe in the 19th century. At his death, it was discovered that the doctor was in fact a woman who had concealed this fact from the world for half a century. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_B...

This book is a fictionalised account in the form of a diary which covers the final part of the doctor's training in Edinburgh and eventual posting to South Africa. Quite a few of the incidents are based on real events including the birth of a baby by the first cesarean birth in South Africa. (The baby would be named after Dr Barry and be the godfather of one of the Union of South Africa's early prime ministers - James Barry Munnik Herzog).

According to the preface, the book was also turned into a play. It was also written by two authors who have disappeared into obscurity - Olga Racster and Jessica Grove. They appear to have collaborated on a number of works of fiction, plays and various books on music. I have been unable to find any information on them other than that Olga published articles about the Koopmans-DeWet House Museum when it was established in 1913.


message 13: by MK (new)

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments I remember coming across a book about her just some time in the last year. I didn't read it, but remember a book summary about it. It wasn't the one you read, tho, Carolien. Pretty sure it was a kindle book, not certain, tho. Fascinating story, Dr. James Barry has!


message 14: by Carolien (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) | 549 comments There are a few. The one I read is definitely out of print. Some options: Scanty Particulars: The Scandalous Life and Astonishing Secret of James Barry, Queen Victoria's Most Eminent Military Doctor or Dr James Barry: A Woman Ahead of Her Time or The Perfect Gentleman. A really interesting person in the context of the time.


message 15: by MK (new)

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments Thx for links, Carolien :)


message 16: by Carolien (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) | 549 comments I completed Push Push by Sindiwe Magona as my choice for the nineties. An interesting collection of short stories that ranges from rural Transkei to expatriate life in New York via the townships of Cape Town. I enjoyed the variety and each story made me reconsider assumptions of life in South Africa. The collection beautifully encapsulates the complexity of South African society.

I highly recommend the alternative that I listed as well. Country of My Skull: Guilt, Sorrow, and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa is written by Antjie Krog who is an South African poet who publishes in Afrikaans, English and Dutch. She was a reporter during the hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and this is a heart-breaking account of her experiences.


message 17: by Carolien (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) | 549 comments I completed Coconut which is a 4 star read. I enjoyed it and recognised some of the issues raised. A complex book that describes life as it is lived and experienced.


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