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Author Focus

NP van Wyk Louw
Biographical info

Nicolaas Petrus (NP) van Wyk Louw was born on 11 June 1906 in Sutherland. He completed his schooling in Cape Town. He studied German and philosophy at the University of Cape Town and in 1929 became a lecturer in Education there. In 1948 he was appointed as professor in South African literature, history and culture at the University of Amsterdam, a position that he occupied until 1958.

From 1960 until his death in 1970, Van Wyk Louw was head of the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch at the University of the Witwatersrand. He made his debut in 1937 with the volume of poetry Alleenspraak, for which he received the Hertzog Prize for Poetry. He received the Hertzog Prize four more times, the last time in 1965 for his collection Tristia.

Van Wyk Louw's best known poems include "Grense", "Die beiteltjie" and the epic poem Raka, and his best known plays are Germanicus and Die pluimsaad waai ver. NP Van Wyk Louw died on 18 June 1970 at the age of 64 in Johannesburg. He is seen as the most important member of the Dertigers movement of the 1930s and is considered one of the greatest poets that South Africa has produced.

Did you know?  

· He was the older brother of the poet WEG Louw who received the Hertzog Prize for Poetry in 1934 for his collection of poetry Die ryke dwaas.
· In 1937 NP van Wyk Louw (at a young 31 years old) refused to share the Hertzog Prize for Alleenspraak with ID du Plessis (for Vreemde Liefde and Ballades). According to an article in Die Burger, Louw and his brother WEG Louw were innovators and the forerunners of the Dertigers. Therefore, it was an insult for Van Wyk Louw to share the prize with one of the "older" poets. Van Wyk Louw did receive the Hertzog Prize another four times after that.

Author bookshelf

Versamelde gedigte, Tafelberg/Human & Rousseau (2002)

Bekronings

Hertzog Prize for Poetry (1937) – Alleenspraak
Hertzog Prize for Poetry (1940) – Die halwe kring
Hertzog Prize for Critical Prose and Essays (1958) – Die mens agter die boek, Maskers van die erns, Lojale verset and Berigte te velde
Hertzog Prize for Drama (1960) – Germanicus
SAUK Prize (1961) – Dagboek van ’n soldaat
CNA Prize (1962) – Tristia
Hertzog Prize for Poetry (1965) – Tristia
Honorary Doctorate from Rhodes University (1966)
Honorary Doctorate from the University of Stellenbosch (1966)
Honorary Doctorate from the University of Cape Town (1966)

List of titles

Poetry and prose
1935 Alleenspraak, Nasionale Pers
1937 Die halwe kring, Nasionale Pers
1941 Raka
1942 Gestaltes en diere, Nasionale Pers
1954 Nuwe verse, Nasionale Boekhandel
1958 Liberale Nasionalisme: Gedagtes oor die Nasionalisme, Liberalisme en tradisie vir Suid-Afrikaners met ’n kulturele nadrup, Tafelberg
1961 Vernuwing in die prosa: grepe uit ons Afrikaanse ervaring, Academica
1962 Tristia en ander verse, voorspele en vlugte, Human & Rousseau
1970 Rondom eie werk, Tafelberg
1972 Opstelle oor ons ouer digters, Human & Rousseau
1981 Versamelde gedigte, Tafelberg / Human & Rousseau
1982 Drie hoorspele, Human & Rousseau
1982 Skietlood, Human & Rousseau
1986 Versamelde prosa I, Tafelberg
1986 Versamelde prosa II, Human & Rousseau

Essays
1939 Berigte te velde: opstelle oor die idee van ’n Afrikaanse nasionale letterkunde, Tafelberg
1939 Lojale verset: kritiese gedagtes oor ons Afrikaanse kultuurstrewe en ons literêre beweging, Tafelberg

Literary theory
1956 Die mens agter die boek, Nasionale Boekhandel
1958 ’n Wêreld deur glas, Nasionale Boekhandel
1961 Vernuwing in die prosa

Plays and other dramatic works
1938 Die dieper reg: ’n spel van die oordeel oor ’n volk, Tafelberg
1952 Dias: ’n hoorspel, Nasionale Boekhandel
1956 Germanicus, Tafelberg
1963 Koning-Eenoog of Nie vir geleerdes (prose drama)
1961 Dagboek van 'n soldaat: ’n hoorspel
1962 Die held, Perskor
1962 Lewenslyn: ’n hoorspel, Simondium Uitgewers
1964 Kruger breek die pad oop en ander hoorspele
1965 Asterion (a radiophonic opera)
1968 Berei in die woestyn: ’n sinne- en wa-spel, Tafelberg
1972 Die pluimsaad waai ver of bitter begin, Human & Rousseau
1974 Blomme vir die winter: ’n hoorspel, Human & Rousseau
1979 Die held, Perskor 

About NP van Wyk Louw
1988 Gedagtes vir ons tyd: uit die prosa van N.P. van Wyk Louw (saamgestel deur P.A. Joubert), Tafelberg
1989 Verborge vuur: 'n keur uit die korter poësie van N.P. van Wyk Louw (saamgestel deur P Louw), Tafelberg.
1994 Die mooiste van Van Wyk Louw (compiled by P. Louw), Human & Rousseau.

Books By This Author