H.A. Fagan

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Henry Allan (H.A.) Fagan (1889-1963) [1] was a well-known South African judge, journalist, politician, academic and a respected poet and playwright. He was awarded the Hertzog Prize for Afrikaans Drama in 1935.


Born in Tulbagh in the Cape Province on 4 April 1889, where his father was a prominent lawyer.


His early years were spent in Tulbagh, where he started his schooling. His father was also an amateur poet and had a very large private library at home. While the family lived in Tulbagh he completed his schooling in Somerset West.


In 1905 he went to Victoria College (later to become Stellenbosch University), where he completed a BA in Literature, after which he studied Law at the University of London where he completed his LLB degree.


He was at one time assistant editor of Die Burger and during 1938/9 a member of JBM Hertzog’s [2] cabinet (as minister for Native Affairs, Education and Social Welfare). Later objected to and wrote books protesting the inhumanity and impracticality of the segregationist policies of the Nationalist Party.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

H.A.Fagan is considered, along with Grosskopf, as the founder of the drama of social realism in Afrikaans. In August 1926 he was one of the founding members and first chairman of the Afrikaanse Toneelvereniging in Cape Town, a society which did two of his one-act plays – Rooibruin Blare and Ruwe Erts - in their first programme and later an early production of his play Lenie. Wrote six full-length and seven one-act plays, and they include Lenie (1924), Die Ouderling (“The Church Elder”) and Ousus (published in one volume in 1934). His one-act plays have also been very influential through their clearly delineated dramatic intrigue, naturalistic dialogue and tight structure. [TH, JH]

Awards, etc

Awarded the 1935 Hertzog Prize for Afrikaans Drama for the collection of plays entitled Die Ouderling en ander toneelstukke (“The Church Elder and other plays”).

On 17 April 1959 he was honoured by the NTO in the Bellville Civic Theatre. A performance of his one-act play Opdrifsels, directed by Robert Mohr, was part of the programme.


Beukes and Lategan, 1961

Kannemeyer 1978

Binge, 1969

Du Toit, 1988

LitNet [3]

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