Bessie Head

Standard Name: Head, Bessie
South African born, Botswanan by political exile, the bi-racial BH 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.


Connections Sort descending Author name Excerpt
Friends, Associates Naomi Mitchison
She became a good friend and literary mentor to Bessie Head , who had left South Africa for a life of struggle in Botswana.
Reception Buchi Emecheta
Overall, BE is most widely recognised for her historical novels set in Nigeria before and after its independence. Critics generally applaud her strongly autobiographical stance for illuminating the struggles of African women against traditional roles...
Theme or Topic Treated in Text Alice Walker
AW writes here about love and disillusionment, about political figures like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King , about writers she admired, like Bessie Head , or like Zora Neale Hurston , Nella Larsen ...


1985: Ellen Kuzwayo (1914-2006) published an autobiography,...

Writing climate item


Ellen Kuzwayo (1914-2006) published an autobiography, Call Me Woman, which uses the harsh events of her own life to show how the South African system of apartheid bore on women in particular.


Head, Bessie. A Bewitched Crossroad: An African Saga. Donker, 1984.
Head, Bessie. A Question of Power. Davis-Poynter, 1973.
Head, Bessie. Maru. Gollancz, 1971.
Head, Bessie. Serowe: Village of the Rain Wind. Heinemann, 1981.
Head, Bessie. The Collector of Treasures. Heinemann, 1977.
Head, Bessie. When Rain Clouds Gather. Simon and Schuster, 1969.