Uys Krige

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Uys Krige (1910–1987) was a versatile South African journalist, war correspondent, poet, playwright, translator and novelist, who wrote in both Afrikaans and English.

He was also a prolific sportsman and a famously gregarious conversationalist.



Born Mattheus Uys Krige on 4 February 1910 on the farm Bontebokskloof, near Swellendam in the Cape Province. His father was the famous Springbok rugby centre, Japie Krige. Uys attended school in Cape Town and Stellenbosch


He studied law at the University of Stellenbosch.


After graduating from university he became a journalist and started his career as a reporter for The Rand Daily Mail [1] and later as literature editor at the newspaper Die Suiderstem. He spent a considerable time in Europe, where he was a correspondent during the Spanish Civil War, was later captured during WWII, only to escape from his Italian prisoner-of-war camp.

Back in South Africa Uys Krige dedicated his time mainly to writing and settled first in Johannesburg, then in Cape Town. His interest in theatre and drama was stimulated when he married the South African actress Lydia Lindeque in 1937 - they were divorced seven years later.

Finally he settled in Onrusrivier near Hermanus in the Cape Province as one of the founding members of an artists' colony there. This is where he lived for the last 18 years of his life. Uys Krige died on 10 August 1987.


War is a dominant theme in much of his writing. While some of his work was originally written in English, notably the full-length play The Two Lamps (1964) and the two autobiographical accounts The Way Out (1947) and Orphan of the Desert (1967), Krige is known primarily for his Afrikaans poetry, his Afrikaans translations of verse and plays from especially French and Spanish, and his Afrikaans one-act plays (most of which he himself also translated into English) and some of his full-lenth work.

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

As playwright

In 1938 he won the playwrighting competition organised in 1938 by the Krugersdorp Municipal Dramatic and Operatic Society (KMDOS) for the Centennial celebrations of the Great Trek, with his full length play Magdalena Retief (1938).


Magdalena Retief - full-length (1938)

Die Arrestasie - one-act (1938)

Die Wit Muur - one-act (1940)

Alle Paaie gaan na Rome - one-act (1949)

Die Grootkanonne - one-act (1949) (Translated by the author into English as The Big Shots)

Fuente Sagrada - one-act (1949)

Die Sluipskutter (also titled Die Skerpskutter) - one-act (1951) (translated by the author into English as The Sniper in 1962)

Die Ryk Weduwee - full-length (1953)

Die Goue Kring - full-length (1956)

As translator

A fine and prolific translator, he translated a number of his own one act plays into English himself (published in two collections by HAUM in 1964, namely The Sniper and other one-act plays and The Two Lamps). His many translations from English and other European languages include Shakespeare’s Twaalfde Nag (Twelfth Night), Koning Lear (King Lear) , Die Vasvat van ‘n Feeks??** (The Taming of a Shrew)**. He also translated Spanish and French plays, including Lorca's Die Huis van Bernarda Alba (The House of Bernarda Alba), Yerma, and ***, and Anouilh's ***, **, **.

Other contributions

On occasion acted as adjudicator for the FATSSA Play Festival.

Influence on later theatre events

In 2002 J.C. Kannemeyer published a biography on Krige, called Die Goue Seun ("The Golden Boy") and in the same year an immensely successful biopic-play (Die Goue Seun), based on the book and Krige's works, was produced by his niece, the actress Grethe Fox and directed by Marthinus Basson.

[TH, JH]

Awards, etc.

1951 & 1971: Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns Award for poetry translation.

1956, 1969, 1972 & 1981: Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns Award for drama translations.

1974: Hertzog Prize for Afrikaans Poetry.

1985: Hertzog Prize for Afrikaans Drama.

Honorary Doctorates awarded by the University of Natal, Rhodes University and the University of Stellenbosch.


Du Toit, 1988

Tucker, 1997

Stellenbosch Writers [2]

Wikipedia [3]

Afrikaans Wikipedia [4]

Erika Terblanche "Uys Krige (1910–1987)" ATKV|LitNet-Skrywersalbum 2017-06-22[5]

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