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Author Focus

Sheila Cussons
Biographical info

Sheila Cussons was born on 9 August 1922 in Morawië near Piketberg. She matriculated at the Hoër Meisieskool Pretoria and obtained a degree in Fine Arts at the University College of Natal in Pietermaritzburg. From 1942 her poems appeared in Die Huisgenoot and later in Standpunte. In 1946 seven of her poems were included in the first Stiebeuel anthology.

In 1948 her long stay abroad started with her departure to Amsterdam, where she studied graphic art. She also lived in London for a while, where she did, among others, journalistic work. Later she returned to South Africa for two years. She then married the Spanish businessman Juan de Saladrigas and lived in Barcelona for 25 years before she returned to South Africa in 1983.

Her first volume, Plektrum, only appeared in 1970. It was awarded the Ingrid Jonker, Eugène Marais and WA Hofmeyr Prizes. She published a total of ten volumes and received the Hertzog Prize for poetry for her complete oeuvre in 1983.

She died on 25 November 2004 in Cape Town.

Did you know?


· Sheila Cussons always referred to herself as fine artist (painter) and then as poet. The poet D.J. Opperman encouraged her to write poetry in Afrikaans rather than English.
· In 1974 Cussons sustained serious burns when a stove exploded in her kitchen. She had to undergo a series of skin transplants and amputations and spent two years in hospital – an experience about which she wrote a lot, especially in Die swart kombuis.

Author bookshelf

Versamelde Gedigte, Tafelberg (2006)


Ingrid Jonker Prize (1971) – Plektrum
Eugène Marais Prize (1971) – Plektrum
WA Hofmeyr Prize (1972) – Plektrum
CNA Prize (1982) – Die woedende brood
Hertzog Prize for poetry (1983) – For her whole oeuvre
WA Hofmeyr Prize (1991) – Die knetterende woord

List of titles

1970 Plektrum
1978 Die swart kombuis
1978 Verf en vlam
1979 Die skitterende wond
1979 Die sagte sprong
1980 Die somerjood
1981 Die woedende brood
1982 Omtoorvuur – 'n keur uit haar gedigte
1983 Verwikkelde lyn
1984 Membraan
1988 Die heilige modder
1991 Die knetterende woord
1997 ’n Engel deur my kop
2000 Die asem van ekstase
2006 Versamelde Gedigte

Translation by Sheila Cussons
1985 Die vorm van die swaard en ander verhale (translation of Jorge Luis Borges stories)

1946 Stiebeuel


1985 Poems

Books By This Author