W.J. Viljoen

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W.J. Viljoen (1869-1929) was an academic, educationist, theatre director and playwright.

Sometimes referred to by his full names as Willem Jacobus Viljoen.


Born Willem Jacobus Viljoen in South Africa he studied in the Netherlands and returned to become a professor of modern languages and history at the University of Stellenbosch. He was also later Director of Education for the Union.

Viljoen was heavily involved in cultural matters and a staunch supporter of Dutch as the national language, and in this respect he was a member of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Taalbond (founded in 1890), and founded both the popular society Ons Spreekuur ("Our Discussion Hour") and the Unie-debatsvereniging ("Union Debating Society"), to promote Dutch in the face of the Afrikaans language movement during the Tweede Taalbeweging ("Second language movement").

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

Under the auspices of these societies Viljoen produced a large number of plays over the years and launched many careers. He was also honorary chairman of Het Afrikaans-Hollands Toneelvereniging in Pretoria, and in that capacity apparently aided and supported Paul de Groot in his first season in South Africa.

In support of his campaign for Dutch, Viljoen also wrote some plays in what was termed Vereenvoudigde Hollandse Spelling ("simplified Dutch spelling"). Two one-act plays were particularly popular, namely Koppigheid (1906), Achter de Schermen (1906). The works were later usually adapted to Afrikaans for performance.

[TH, JH]


F.C.L. Bosman. 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [1]: p. 6.

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 15, 24, 42, 479, 481

Ludwig Wilhelm Berthold Binge. 1969. Ontwikkeling van die Afrikaanse toneel (1832-1950). Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 14, 53, 108-9, 190, 229, 238.

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