Johannes van Melle

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Johannes van Melle (1887-1953) is an Afrikaans-Flemish author and teacher.

Van Melle mostly published under the penname of Jan van Melle (wrongly given as John van Melle in the English Wikipedia), but is sometimes also referred to as J. van Melle in sources.


Born Johannes van Melle in Goes, Belgium. He arrived in South Africa in 1906, and after a short sojourn in the Netherlands East Indies, settled in South Africa permanently in 1913. He worked as a teacher in many rural schools and soon started to publish in both Dutch and the newly emerging Afrikaans language.

His best known work is the novel Bart Nel, a classic of Afrikaans literature. It tells the tale of a farmer whose indomitable spirit allows him to survive the destruction and loss of his farm in wartime and being abandoned by his wife and family. It has been a standard Afrikaans setwork at school and at University levels since publication.

Contribution to South African theatre, film, media and performance

His most famous novel, Bart Nel, has been adapted for the stage, radio, TV and film in a variety of ways over the years.

Other dramatic works based on his novels and short stories include Die Huwelik van Pop le Roux ("The marriage of Pop le Roux", 1935) and Wraak ("Revenge", 1937) and the TV film Verspeelde Lente ("Lost spring", 1982).


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