N.P. van Wyk Louw

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Nicolaas Petrus van Wyk Louw (1906 - 1970), known as N.P. van Wyk Louw, was an Afrikaans-language poet, playwright, lecturer and cultural theorist. He was awarded the Hertzog Prize five times, including for Afrikaans Drama in 1960.

He was the older brother of poet and major critic W.E.G. Louw.


N.P. van Wyk Louw was born in Sutherland, Cape Province, on 11 June 1906. He was a scholar and a university lecturer for most of his life and he died in Johannesburg on 18 June 1970. He was first Joan Wessels and later to actress and director Truida Louw.


Spent his early youth in Sutherland until in 1920 the family moved to Cape Town, where he completed his schooling at SACS (South African College Schools [1])



The second of four brothers, N.P. van Wyk Louw moved to Cape Town at the age of 14. He earned a Master's Degree in German at the University of Cape Town, where he later taught. He received an honorary degree from the University of Utrecht in 1948 and was a professor of Afrikaans at the University of Amsterdam from 1949-1958. He finished his academic career at the University of Witwatersrand as head of the Dutch/Afrikaans department.

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

N.P. van Wyk Louw also did some acting.

Also did some acting. Brother of major critic W.E.G. Louw, born in Carnavon/Sutherland? in the Cape Province, he studied at ***. ****. Became an inspiring lecturer at Amsterdam? and later University of the Witwatersrand. A member of the so-called "Dertigers" movement ("People of the thirties"), he published some of the most influential poetry in Afrikaans.

In 1927 performed in J.F.W. Grosskopf's As die tuig skawe (1927). Translated Sacha Guitry's Huis te Koop and Maurice Maeterlinck's Die Indringer (with his brother) in 1935. A career as dramatist began when he was commissioned to write Die Dieper Reg for Volksteater in Pretoria. He later also wrote more plays for radio and stage, including Die Held, Dias, Germanicus (perf by NTO, 1957, pub. 195*), Die Pluimsaad waai vêr (Perf by PACT?*:1966, Pub:1972?). *** Louw played an important role as mentor to new writers (he influenced P.G. du Plessis for example) and his defense of liberalism in South Africa is reflected in his many writings on Afrikaners, Afrikaner consciousness, language, literature and theatre, and are important documents in a theory of Afrikaans cultural thinking in the period 1935-1966. In 1966 the production of Die Pluimsaad waai vêr brought him into direct conflict with H.F. Verwoerd regarding the freedom of the artist. He was married to theatre director Truida Louw. (See Binge, 19**; Du Toit, 1988) [TH, JH]

VAN WYK LOUW, N.P. Truida Louw directed his Die Pluimsaad waai vêr at the Brooke Theatre in 1966 for PACT. His Germanicus starring Marius Weyers formed part of the opening season of the Pretoria State Theatre in 1981. *** (Tucker, 1997)

Awards, etc


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