T.P. Hill

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(18**-18**) Performer and teacher of English, public speaking and recitation.


He appears to have been an educated person, with artistic taste and talent, who expressed a clear ambition to give the arts a greater role in society.

It is uncertain when he arrived in Cape Town, possibly in 1845 or 1846, but between 1846 and 1851 he was active in the Cape Town community, his name appearing as a teacher of language, literature, short-hand and elocution, as well as an "agent in refrigerators", this possibly as a source of additional income.

He left the Cape early in 1851 for Mauritius, to continue with this work there, eventually becoming a lecturer in Monsieur Bourbon's College.

Contribution to theatre and the arts in South Africa

He is first mentioned in October 1846 as the presenter of Mr Hill's Literary Entertainment, a series of Novel Literary Entertainments in the Commercial Exchange, the programmes including many recitals from Shakespeare (Hamlet, Shylock, Mark Anthony, etc.), Dickens, Sheridan Knowles, and from other writers in prose and verse.

In 1848 he became the secretary of the Amicable Club and played a leading role in its elocution and literary studies sections as teacher and performer.

In June 1849 he once again gave regular Literary Entertainments in the Commercial Exchange. Hill continued these presentations until 1850, then left the Cape early in 1851 for Mauritius, where he continued – with considerable success - to do the same.

His recitals had an enormous longer term influence on the many amateur players in the Cape; for example, Bosman speculates that the City Amateur Theatrical Society (floreat 1854) may have been one aspect of Hill's legacy.

[TH, JH]


F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [1]: pp. 427, 440-1, 494, 500.

Facsimile version of the Proceedings of the 20th anniversary meeting of the subscribers of The Public Library, Cape Town, 1849: p.3[2]

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