F. Horace Rose

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(b. Port Alfred, 07/07/1876 – d. East London, 22/01/1965). Editor, novelist, screen writer.


Frederick Horace Vincent Rose was originally a freelance journalist who spent the years of the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) in Great Britain, from where he sent articles about English life to newspapers in South Africa. These were collected in a volume called An Impressionist in England (1904), which was to be followed by two more collections of well-received travel writings entitled On the Edge of the East (1912) and A Caper on the Continent (1913).

Upon his return to South Africa in 1903, he joined The Natal Witness in Pietermaritzburg and only a year later became its editor. A man of strong convictions, he turned the publication into one of the country’s most prominent newspapers, changing its layout and embarking upon various campaigns. One such crusade that would have a lasting effect was that of penal reform in Natal and a formal commission of enquiry adopted many of his recommendations. He retired as editor in 1926. He was married to Doreen Elsie Hopkins, but the couple had no children.

Like his colleague J. Langley Levy at The Sunday Times, he also had a keen interest in the cinema. The first film in which he was involved was The Symbol of Sacrifice (1918), for which he wrote the script. Directed by Dick Cruikshanks, it told the story of the battle of Rorke’s Drift and the death of Louis Napoleon, the Prince Imperial. This was followed by Bond and Word (Dick Cruikshanks/1918) and The Voice of the Waters (Joseph Albrecht/1922). In February 1919, the S.A. Pictorial reported that African Film Productions was filming the diamond rush at Home Rule near Christiana for a 14-part serial entitled The Adventures of a Diamond, written by F. Horace Rose and directed by Joseph Albrecht, but there is no evidence that this was ever completed.

While editor of The Natal Witness, he also wrote a number of novels, an occupation to which he returned after his retirement. As far as we have been able to establish, the following is a fairly comprehensive list of his publications: An Impressionist in England (1904), On the Edge of the East (1912), A Caper on the Continent (1913), Golden Glory (1915), Haidee (1917), As a Shadow Grows (1924), We Who Believe (1925), Love Tells the World (1928), Bride of the Kalahari (1940), Hell’s Acre (1941), The Prodigal Soldier (1942), The Four Kings in the Street of Gold (1942), Pharoah’s Crown (sic) (1943), Kruger’s Wagon (1943), Rock of Ages (1944), The Night of the World (1944), Palace and Prison (1946), The Maniac’s Dream (1946), The Harp of Life (1946). For Golden Glory he won a £1000 Hodder & Stoughton prize for the best novel coming out of Africa and The Maniac’s Dream is said to be one of the first novels to have dealt with the threat of atomic warfare. (FO)


Dictionary of South African biography

Gutsche, Thelma - The history and social significance of motion pictures in South Africa 1895-1940

Le Roux, André I. & Fourie, Lilla – Filmverlede: geskiedenis van die Suid-Afrikaanse speelfilm


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