Jan Spies

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Jan Spies (1936-1996) was an Afrikaans lecturer, writer, storyteller, radio and TV personality.

Also published as J.P. Spies


Born Johannes Petrus Spies on 30 June 1936, on the farm Sekretarispan, near Mariental in South West Africa (now known as Namibia).

Having completed his schooling in Windhoek (matriculating in 1955 at Windhoek High School), he went to the University of Pretoria to study Theology to begin with, then moving on to Literature. In 1959 he was editor of the student magazine Die Perdeby.

Having completed a B.A. degree and a B.A. Honours degree, he registered with the Transvaal Education Department as a teacher. In 1962 he obtained a M.A. degree in Afrikaans literature.

After a short stint at the Department of Mining, he became a lecturer in Afrikaans at the Transvaal Training Institute for Indian Teachers in Fordsburg in April 1963, and while there completed a Higher Education Diploma at the Johannesburg College of Education. From January of 1970 to June of 1977 he was a lecturer at the Rand Afrikaans University, completing a doctoral thesis in 1974, and being promoted to senior lecturer.

In this period he also emerged as a beloved storyteller, on stage, radio and TV, as well as a serious poet and writer of short fiction.

He left teaching to farm in Namibia and concentrate on his writing.

Sadly Spies died on 4 January 1996 in Windhoek, Namibia, following a series of accidents, leaving his wife, Beatrice Spies, whom he had married in 1961, and two sons, Barend Spies and Willem Spies.

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

In 1974 he began appearing on the SABC's Afrikaans morning radio program Monitor, with his popular donkey stories and later general stories, told in a distinctive drawling narrative deliver that became his signature style. This would lead on to truly national fame when he joined the playwright and storyteller P.G. du Plessis as co-host of the immensely popular television program Spies en Plessie, becoming a national figure. The programme featured not only jokes and comic narratives by the two presenters, but also discovered and hosted numerous storytellers from all walks of life.

In 1976 he edited Klein Begin in die Drama, a compilation of seven short plays with educational notes for school use (published by De Jager-HAUM, Pretoria).



Go to the ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to ESAT Personalities S

Return to South African Theatre Personalities

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page