Head, Bessie Emery

▪ South African novelist
born July 6, 1937, Pietermaritzburg, S.Af.
died April 17, 1986, Serowe, Botswana

      African writer who described the contradictions and shortcomings of pre- and postcolonial African society in morally didactic novels and stories.

      Head was born of an illegal union between her white mother (who was placed in a mental asylum during her pregnancy) and black father (who then mysteriously disappeared). She suffered rejection and alienation at an early age. After moving from foster parents to an orphanage school to an early marriage, she abandoned her homeland, her teaching job, and her husband and took her small son to Botswana, seeking personal asylum and tranquility in simple village life.

      Head's novels evolved from an objective, affirmative narrative of an exile finding new meaning in his adopted village in When Rain Clouds Gather (1969) to a more introspective account of the acceptance won by a light-coloured San (Bushman) woman in a black-dominated African society in Maru (1971). A Question of Power (1973) is a frankly autobiographical account of disorientation and paranoia in which the heroine survives by sheer force of will. The Collector of Treasures (1977), a volume of short fiction, includes brief vignettes of traditional Botswanan village life, macabre tales of witchcraft, and passionate attacks on African male chauvinism.

      Head said that literature must be a reflection of daily encounters with undistinguished people. Her works reveal empathy with children, with women treated as “dead things” in South Africa, and with idealistic planners who meet indifference and greed at the marketplace.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Head, Bessie — orig. Bessie Amelia Emery born July 6, 1937, Pietermaritzburg, S.Af. died April 17, 1986, Serowe, Bots. South African born Botswanan writer. Born of an illegal union between a white mother and a black father, she suffered rejection and alienation …   Universalium

  • Head, Bessie — orig. Bessie Amelia Emery (6 jul. 1937, Pietermaritzburg, Sudáfrica–17 abr. 1986, Serowe, Botsuana). Escritora botsuana, nacida en Sudáfrica de la unión ilegal entre una madre blanca y un padre negro. Debido a esto sufrió el rechazo y la… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Bessie Head — Bessie Emery Head (July 6, 1937 April 17, 1986) is usually considered Botswana s most important writer. She was born in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, the child of a wealthy white South African woman and a black servant when interracial… …   Wikipedia

  • Bessie — /bes ee/, n. a female given name, form of Elizabeth. Also, Bessy. * * * (as used in expressions) Head Bessie Bessie Amelia Emery Smith Bessie * * * …   Universalium

  • Bessie — (as used in expressions) Head, Bessie Bessie Amelia Emery Smith, Bessie …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Bessie Head — Bessie Amelia Emery Head (* 6. Juli 1937 in Pietermaritzburg; † 17. April 1986 in Serowe; geboren als Bessie Amelia Emery[1]) gilt als bekannteste Schriftstellerin Botsuanas. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 2 Werk …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Head — I Head   [englisch, hed; sinngemäß »Ausgangspunkt«],   1) Synonym für das Thema der Improvisation;   2) eine neue Melodielinie zu bekannter Harmoniefolge (eines alten Titels). II Head   [dt. »Kopf«] …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Botswana — /bot swah neuh/, n. a republic in S Africa: formerly a British protectorate; gained independence 1966; member of the Commonwealth of Nations. 1,500,765; 275,000 sq. mi. (712,250 sq. km). Cap.: Gaborone. Formerly, Bechuanaland. * * * Botswana… …   Universalium

  • African literature — Introduction       the traditional oral and written literatures together with the mainly 20th century literature written mostly in European languages but also to an increasing extent in the many languages of the sub Saharan region. Traditional… …   Universalium

  • Wallis Simpson — Wallis Duchess of Windsor …   Wikipedia


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