Human & Rousseau

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Author Focus

Elisabeth Eybers

Biographical info

Elisabeth Françoise Eybers was born on 26 February 1915 in Klerksdorp.

She grew up and attended school in Schweizer-Reneke where her father was a minister. At age 16 she went to study at the University of the Witwatersrand where she attained her BA-degree and BA Honours (with distinction). Thereafter she was a member of the arts desk at Die Vaderland as well as the editor of the magazine Die Moderne Vrou.

She made her debut in 1936 with the collection, Belydenis in die skemering, becoming the first woman to publish a volume of poetry in Afrikaans. In 1943 she became the first woman to receive the Hertzog Prize.

She departs for the Netherlands in 1961 - initially only for a year. She eventually settled and lived in Amsterdam for 46 years until her death on 1 September 2007 at age 92.

Eybers received several prizes, among others the Hertzog Prize (1943, 1971), the CNA Prize, the WA Hofmeyr Prize, the Old Mutual Prize and in the Netherlands she was also awarded the sought-after PC Hooft Prize (the most important Dutch literary prize), the Herman Gorter Prize and the Constantijn Huygens Prize.

Did you know?

· Eybers was married with businessman Albert Wessels from whom she divorced later; three daughters and a son were born from the marriage. Her daughter Elisabeth Bradley is a well-known businesswoman and among others the chairman of Toyota South Africa.
· Her volume, Die stil avontuur, was translated into English in collaboration with the poet Olga Kirsch.
· Elisabeth received four honorary doctorates from four universities: the University of Witwatersrand (1972), the Rand Afrikaans University (1979), the University of Pretoria (1982) and the University of Stellenbosch (1990).
· Her last four volumes were bilingual: Tydverdryf/Pastime (1996), Verbruikersverse/Consumer's Verse (1997), Winter-surplus (1999) and Valreep/Stirrup-cup (2005).

Author bookshelf

Valreep / Stirrup-cup, Human & Rousseau (2005)


Hertzog Prize for poetry (1943) - Belydenis in die skemering and Die stil avontuur
Akademie Prize for translated work (1961) - For her translation of Jules Supervielle's Die os en die esel van die krip
Hertzog Prize for poetry (1971) - Onderdak
CNA Prize (1973) - Kruis of munt
Herman Gorter Prize (1975) - Kruis of munt
CNA Prize (1977) - Einder
WA Hofmeyr-prys (1978) - Einder
Constantijn Huygens Prize (1978) - For her complete oeuvre
CNA Prize (1982) - Bestand
WA Hofmeyr Prize (1983) - Bestand
Louis Luyt Prize (1984) - Bestand
Ou Mutual Prize (1989) - Rymdwang
PC Hooft Prize (1991) - The most important Dutch prize for literature
Ou Mutual Prize (1994) - Respyt
Order of Ikhamanga in Gold (2007) - From the SA government
South African Literary Award – Posthumous Literary Award (2010)

List of titles

1936 Belydenis in die skemering
1939 Die stil avontuur
1945 Die vrou en ander verse
1946 Die ander dors
1945 Tussensang
1954 Die helder halfjaar
1957 Kwartet (with MER, Ina Rousseau and Henriette Grové)
1957 Versamelde gedigte
1958 Neerslag
1962 Balans
1968 Onderdak: gedigte, November 1962-Junie 1967
1973 Kruis of munt
1977 Einder
1978 Gedigte 1936-1958
1978 Gedigte 1958-1973
1982 Bestand
1985 Gedigte 1962-1982
1985 Dryfsand
1987 Rymdwang
1989 Noodluik
1991 Teëspraak: rondom die PC Hooft-prys
1993 Respyt
1994 Nuweling
1995 Uit en tuis: Afrikaanse verse uit Amsterdam (compiled by Ena Jansen and Hans Ester)
1995 'n Pastoriedogter
1996 Tydverdryf/Pastime
1997 Verbruikersverse/Consumer's Verse
1999 Winter-surplus
2005 Valreep/Stirrup-cup


Die stil avontuur (1939)
English (1948)

Bestand (1982)
German (Zwölf Gedichte)

Noodluik (1989)
German (1993)

Tydverdryf (1996)
English (Pastime)

Verbuikersverse (1997)
English (Consumer's Verse)

Winter-surplus (1999)
English (Winter-surplus)

Valreep (2005)
English (Stirrup-cup)

Books By This Author