J.F.W. Grosskopf

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Johannes Friedrich Wilhelm (J.F.W.) Grosskopf (1885–1948) was a South African academic, journalist, critic, novelist, stage director and playwright. He was awarded the Hertzog Prize for Afrikaans Drama in 1926.



His father was a Lutheran missionary and his mother was also from a family of missionaries. He matriculated at Grey College in Bloemfontein.


Started his tertiary education by studying languages at the University of Stellenbosch and got an M.A. Degree in 1906. After teaching for one year he continued his studies in Europe. From 1908 to 1913 he read Literature, Law and Economics at universities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and obtained a Dr. jur. Degree at the University of Leiden.


After his studies in Europe he returned to South Africa and became a journalist and editor of the Afrikaans newspapers Ons Vaderland and Die Volksblad.

In 1920 he was appointed Professor of Political Studies at the University of Stellenbosch and in 1935 he became Head of Economics in the Department of Agriculture.

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

Apart from writing some plays in Afrikaans, Grosskopf did a lot of translation into Afrikaans from German, French and Swedish. he also published short stories in Afrikaans and English in various publications, including The South African News, Ons Moedertaal and Die Huisgenoot. He was very interested in graphic art and in 1947 he published a book about the South African landscape artist Hendrik Pierneef [1].

Translated the play Die Joernalisten by German novelist and playwright Gustav Freytag [2] as Die Koerantskrywers ("The Journalists"), for the GUK Toneelvereniging in 1920.

In the 1920s, while a professor at the University of Stellenbosch, he was a member of the Unie-debatsvereniging (debating society), for which he directed several Afrikaans productions, including Koringboere ("Wheat Farmers") by D.F. Malherbe.

In Pretoria he wrote newspaper reviews of the first productions by Ons Teatertjie Toneelgroep / Volksteater

Published Works

His published works include:

'n Esau: bosveld-drama in vier tonele (1920) - a play in four acts.

Die Peswolk (1924) - his first one-act play.

Drie Eenbedrywe (1926) - three one-act plays (In die Wagkamer, Die Spookhuis and Die Peswolk).

As die tuig skawe (1926) - a play in four acts.

Mara, also known as Oorlog is Oorlog (1927) - a one-act play.

Ou Leeumelker en ander vertellings (1938)

Die klipdolk en ander kort-spele (1941)

Legende, drama uit ons volksverlede'' (1942)

Die Daad van Koedri en twee ander kort toneelstukke (1946)

Die Vloek (1946)

Padbrekers: 'n mensetragedie (1947)

Awards, etc

The Hertzog Prize for Drama in 1926 for his play As die tuig skawe and the collection Drie eenbedrywe (which includes In die Wagkamer, Die Spookhuis and Die Peswolk).

An Honorary Award of the SA Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns for film making in 1931.


Stellenbosch Writers [3]

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