Bessie Head entry: Overview screen.
Writing and Life
Works By
South African born, Botswanan by political exile, the bi-racial Bessie Head was a living criticism of the South African apartheid laws. She began her writing career with journalism which in time became politically active, and went on to publish novels (her last one closely founded on historical research), short stories, and books about her adopted homeland. Her early death cut short her work on her autobiography.
6 July 1937 Bessie Amelia Emery (later Head) was born at Fort Napier Mental Institution in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, after her white mother (after years confined in a different mental hospital) somehow got pregnant while out on a family visit. Bibliographic Citation link.
11 March 1969 Having used "a small grant from the World Council of Churches" Bibliographic Citation link. to finance its writing, BH published her first novel, When Rain Clouds Gather, through Simon and Schuster in New York. Bibliographic Citation link.
October 1973 BH's third novel, A Question of Power, can be seen as autobiographical or allegorical. It is non-naturalistic, tracing a woman's descent into madness and gradual return to sanity, a kind of fall and redemption, a cosmic struggle between inward good and evil. Bibliographic Citation link.
17 April 1986 BH died in the same hospital in which she was born in Serowe of liver failure consequent on hepatitis. Bibliographic Citation link.
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