Gordon Bagnall

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Gordon Bagnall (b. Croydon, 12/12/1898 – d. Cape Town, **/01/1977) was a journalist, broadcaster, an occasional actor and playwright.

Biography

Arthur Gordon Bagnall was the son of the Rev. Ernest James Talbot Bagnall, a Primitive Methodist clergyman and his wife Lydia Mary Knight. He was educated at St. Olave’s Grammar School in London. During World War I he was in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve Service, where he was a telegraphist. He entered Oxford University in 1919 and during 1922-23 he was both President of the National Union of Students and of the Oxford Union. In 1923 he travelled to the United States, apparently as a member of David Lloyd George’s personal party, and again in 1925. On those occasions he visited American universities and took part in political debates. In 1929-30 he was President of the International Confederation of Students.

He first visited South Africa in 1931 and toured the university towns as a member of the League of Nations Union, an organisation formed to promote international justice, collective security and a permanent peace based upon the ideals of the League of Nations. He decided to settle in the country and by 1933 his profession was given as journalist. During the 1930s he was a regular broadcaster on international affairs from the Cape Town office of the SABC. He was leader writer for the Cape Argus for ten years and thereafter for the Cape Times. In 1951 he became Public Relations Officer for the University of Cape Town and in 1966 for the Nederburg Estate. Known as a wine connoisseur, he wrote Wines of South Africa: an account of their history, their production and their nature (K.W.V., 1961). He died at Groote Schuur Hospital after a long illness.

Gordon Bagnall was married twice, first to Sally du Plessis in 1935 and, after their divorce, to Dorothy Greene in 1954.

Contribution to South African Theatre

In 1943 his one-act play The Pineapple Barrow was performed by the Cape Town Repertory Theatre Society and in 1951 he acted in Love in Albania, directed by Joyce Bradley at the Labia Theatre. In 1957 he wrote and acted in Just Between Ourselves, a political revue that was staged first in Cape Town and subsequently in Johannesburg. Another one-act play, Birth of a Union, was performed at Cape Town’s City Hall as part of the festival to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Union of South Africa.

Sources

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1919

Columbia Daily Spectator, 8 October 1923

Middlesex County Times, 21 April 1934

Rand Daily Mail, 18 January 1977

Undated clipping from Die Burger found in a scrapbook prepared by Sophie Snyman, student in Speech and Drama at the University of Stellenbosch, dated 1951.

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