He also wrote poetry and other works under the nom de plume of T. Jansen van Rensburg.
Born Theunis Theodorus Cloete in Vredefort in the Orange Free State, he went to school in Vredefort and in Krugersdorp, originally studied theology at the University of Pretoria (1942), but contracted polio and did not complete the studies. While ill he became interested in literature, and thus began a BA at the University of Potchefstroom in 1945, completing in it in 1947, followed by an MA in 1949. In 1953 he obtained his doctorate from the Gemeentelijke Universiteit van Amsterdam.
Besides stints as teacher and a period at the University of Port Elizabeth (1965-1969), most of his working life was spent in the University of Potchefstroom's (now North-West University) School of Language and Literature.
Besides numerous academic publications, essays and criticism, he became involved in the revision of the Afrikaanse Kerkgesange in the 1970s and in the 1993 translation of the Bible. Important material (also on drama) is contained in collections he co-edited with various colleagues, such as Die Afrikaanse literatuur sedert sestig (with A.P. Grové, J.P. Smuts and Elize Botha, 1980), Gids by die literatuurstudie (with Elize Botha and Charles Malan, 1985) and Literêre terme en teorieë (with Hein Viljoen, Leon Strydom, Heilna du Plooy and Anne-Marie Bosschoff, 1992).
Though he had been writing poetry for some time, he only made his debut as poet under his own name in 1980 with the collection Angelliera.
He won numerous awards over the course of his career, notably for his literary work, work on the Bible and his poetry, including the Ingrid Jonker Prize, W.A. Hofmeyr Prize, Hertzog Prize (twice) en die Andrew Murray Prize.
He died in Potchefstroom on 9 July, 2015.
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