Richard Rive

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Richard Rive (1931-1989) was a writer of short-stories, essays, novels and plays.


Born Richard Moore Rive in District Six, Cape Town in 1930, where he was raised by his mother, Nancy Rive, and was schooled at St. Mark’s Primary School and Trafalgar High School. After completing High School in 1947, Rive worked for a short time as a clerk in a local business and in 1950 registered at Hewat College of Education to train as an English teacher. He taught at Vasco High School for a short while, then at South Peninsula High School, where he worked for almost two decades, ultimately as head of the English Department and an athletics coach and administrator.

While teaching he also studied for a B.A. in English, completing it in 1962 and followed this with a Masters from Columbia University (1966) and a Doctorate from Oxford (1974). In 1988 he became the head of the English department at Hewat College of Education. He was at various times a visiting professor at several overseas universities, including Harvard.

As author he wrote a number of short stories, edited anthologies for the Heinemann African Writers Series and wrote three novels, including Emergency (1964) and 'Buckingham Palace', District Six (1986). He also wrote three plays.

Sadly, he was murdered at his home in Cape Town in 1989.

His contribution to South African theatre, film, media and performance

While best known for his short stories and novels, he also had an impact in theatre. He adapted his short story Resurrection into an one-act play (first performed 1966), and won the BBC African Theatre Competition of 1972 with another one-act play, Make Like Slaves.

He later adapted 'Buckingham Palace', District Six into a play, originally performed by students at Hewat College in 1988, then professionally by the Baxter Theatre in 1989.


See Gosher, 1988

Shaun Viljoen. 2013. Richard Rive: A Partial Biography (Wits University Press).

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