Guy Butler

(Redirected from Prof. F.G. Butler)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Guy Butler (1918-2001) was a poet, playwright, cultural activist and leading academic.


Born Frederick Guy Butler in Cradock, he was educated there, then studied at Rhodes University, receiving an MA in 1938. After marrying Jean Satchwell in 1940 he left South Africa to fight in the Second World War, when he also began to write his first creative work. After the war, he read English literature at Brasenose College, Oxford University, graduating in 1947, before returning to South Africa to become a lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand. In 1951, he returned to Rhodes University in Grahamstown (presently known as Makhanda) to take up a post as a senior lecturer, and a year later was made professor and head of English (1953 to 1987). After retirement, he was appointed Emeritus Professor and Honorary Research Fellow there.

Guy Butler had an enormous influence not only on Rhodes University, but on South African English culture in general, and particularly South African writing in English. In this respect, he fought to have writings by South African authors recognized and included in school and university syllabi.

He died in Grahamstown in 2001.

Contribution to South African letters, arts and theatre

He was the driving force behind the founding of a number of university departments (Rhodes University Drama Department), Linguistics and English Language, and Journalism and Media Studies), helped set up a number of institutes and societies (the Institute for the Study of English in Africa (ISEA), the National English Literary Museum (NELM), the Shakespeare Society of South Africa). Perhaps his most notable achievement, however, was the founding of the 1820 Settler's Foundation, which led to the building of the Monument Theatre in Grahamstown and thus to the annual Grahamstown Arts Festival.

Butler was also a leading figure in such organisations as the English Academy, NTO, CAPAB, and a board member of the Oude Meester Foundation for the Arts.


Among his best known plays are:

He also co-edited the collection Plays from Near and Far (with Tim Peacock, 1972).


Mona de Beer 1995. Revised ed. Who Did What in South Africa. Johannesburg: Ad Donker.

Peter Joyce. 1999. A Concise Dictionary of South African Biography. Cape Town: Francolin Publishers.

Go to South African Theatre/Bibliography

Return to

Return to ESAT Personalities B

Return to South African Theatre Personalities

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page