Emma Krogh

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Emma Krogh (b. Pretoria, 25/10/1874 - d. Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland, 29/02/1960) was an actress and music teacher.


Emma (Amarentie Susanna Catharina) Krogh, the daughter of a Deputy Secretary of State in the administration of Paul Kruger’s Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek, could probably claim to have been the first identified actress in a South African film. She played the heroine in The Great Kimberley Diamond Robbery, filmed and directed by R.C.E. Nissen for Rufe Naylor’s Springbok Film Co., first shown on 11 December 1911 at the Tivoli (afternoon) and the Orpheum (evening) in Johannesburg. Previously, in 1909, she played the heroine in War and a Woman, staged first at the Opera House in Pretoria and subsequently at the Standard Theatre and His Majesty’s Theatre in Johannesburg. She was a music teacher, the first female head of a school in Pretoria and also the mother of Stella Blakemore, the author of extremely popular Afrikaans children’s books, notably the Maasdorp series for teenage girls and the Keurboslaan series for boys, the latter written under the pseudonym of Theunis Krogh, which was the name of her maternal grandfather.

Though a document in the National Archives Repository identifies Emma Krogh as “very anti-British”, in 1902 she nevertheless married English-born Captain Percy Blakemore, who came to South Africa as a trooper in the ranks of the Strathcona Horse, but ended up as officer commanding the 1st Squadron of the Kings' Colonials during the South African War. He remained in South Africa to become one of three officers running the Orange River Colony Settlers Association, but in 1907 he deserted his wife and daughter to return to England, reportedly to become a professional gambler. She was granted a divorce from him in 1914. For some time Emma ran a music and drama school in Pretoria where Stella, who had married David Owen, a Welshman who was in the British colonial service in Swaziland, took over some of her duties. When Owen was transferred to the Gold Coast (today’s Ghana), the couple’s adopted children were sent to school in Wales, where their grandmother joined them. In 1954 they all moved to Warrenpoint in Northern Ireland, where Emma died in 1960. (FO)

(Note: Though her gravestone in Warrenpoint is clearly engraved 1880-1960, her father’s estate papers give her date of birth as 25 October 1874. Most sources give her first name as Emmerentia, but on her wedding license she clearly wrote Amarentie.)


St. John Daily Sun, 4 June 1903




Private correspondence

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