For the first time more than seventy South African women’s voices, from 1652 until today, are collected and published in one volume. Initially we hear their voices in Dutch, then in different varieties of Afrikaans, bearing witness to the fascinating development of a new language. We share the joys and sorrows of these women; their entertaining, sometimes gruesome stories.
The printing press arrived late at the Cape, and when it finally did, it took another century before the first publications by women came rolling from the press, initially with the strong influence of the Bible clearly audible. Gradually, as women started to receive a better education, a literature of world stature came into being in Afrikaans. Through the eyes of these women we can see the tumultuous history of South Africa passing by, from colonisation up to democracy.
This book is crucial for researchers of language development and (historical) texts by women. It is also indispensable for everyone interested in world literature and its development – and in particular in South Africa.
Pieta van Beek is a researcher at the Universities of Utrecht and Stellenbosch and her publications are predominantly on the polyglot seventeenth-century learned woman Anna Maria van Schurman, who was the first female university student. Her book Brieven van overzee: Ida Gerhardt nabij is about her friendship and correspondence with the poet Ida Gerhardt. With Dineke Ehlers she co-authored the textbook Oranje boven: Nederlands voor Zuid-Afrika.on the polyglot seventeenth-century learned woman Anna Maria van Schurman, who was the first female university student. Her book Brieven van overzee: Ida Gerhardt nabij is about her friendship and correspondence with the poet Ida Gerhardt. With Dineke Ehlers she co-authored the textbook Oranje boven: Nederlands voor Zuid-Afrika.
Annemarié van Niekerk was for many years a university lecturer and literary critic in South Africa before moving to the Netherlands. She has published numerous articles on Women’s Literature, Gender Studies and Literary History and has compiled various anthologies of African and South African women’s writing. Currently she is book reviewer for the Dutch newspaper Trouw and writes a column for the Belgian sociocultural magazine Streven.
"Timeous. Important. Courageous, as it executes a double rescue operation. Speaking in sister languages, the voices of foremothers and their daughters who never dreamt themselves to be connected, are hereby for the very first time brought into conversation across generations, race and class. And then, in an imaginative political act, they are all translated into English to be finally set free to breathe within the broader discourses of female writing."
Antjie Krog (born 1952) is a South African poet, academic, and writer.