A.S. van Straten

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(1937-1997) Academic, copy writer, publisher and playwright. Generally known as Ampie van Straten or As van Straten.

Born Abraham S. van Straten in Maclear in the Cape Province , but his parents moved to Pretoria when he was a child, so he went to the Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool ("Afrikaans High Boys School"), where he became known as Ampie van Straten. This was followed by a B.A and teachers' diploma from the University of Pretoria. He later married Cecily Luck, who would also become a writer under the name Cecily van Straaten. They had three sons: Abrie, Piet and Chris.

He became an Afrikaans language teacher at the Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool for 15 months, then a assistant secretary and editor of Die Taalgenoot at the ATKV, before he joined the VZ advertising agency. After this he moved to the Johannesburg College of Education as a trainer of language teachers. On 1 January 1982 he joined Human and Rousseau as a publisher in their Johannesburg office. In 1986 he moved to Cape Town as Fiction editor for the company, and in 1990 moved back to their office in Pretoria. He remained there till 10 April 1996.

As novelist

He wrote two novels, namely Daar's ’n gaatjie in die middel van die see. ("There's a little hole in the middle of the sea") in 1966, and Die wenner ("The winner") in 1978.

As playwright

In 1975 he made his debut with the enormously successful and entertaining radio drama about language and the advertising industry, Pendoring (Edms) Beperk (lit. "Spike Thorn (Prop) Ltd"), a work which not only won the SABC's GRA-hoorspelwedstryd ("GRA radio drama competition") but also received the SAUK-prys ("SABC award") for radio dramas and radio documentaries, presented by the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns. The play soon became a very popular stage text as well, and has been performed and broadcast numerous times by professionals and by amateurs.

It was followed by two sequels, Pendoring & Kie (lit. "Spike Thorn & Co") and Pendoring & Seun (lit. "Spike Thorn & Son" - 1995), as well as a he wrote specifically for the Kampustoneel playwriting initiative, called Die Engel en die Potlooddief ("The Angel and the Pencil Thief" – 198*). Other plays include Die Aand van die Fynproewer.

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