W.J. du P. Erlank

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W.J. du P. Erlank (1901-1984) Academic, author, translator and cultural leader. Wrote under the pseudonym Eitemal, a transposition of his university nickname of "Lammetjie" ("little lamb"). Later he was generally referred to as "Duke" Erlank by colleagues.

He was married to Hester Cornelia Visser, and they had a son.


Born Willem Jacobus du Plooy Erlankin Wolmeransstad and completed his high school studies at the Boys High School, Potchefstroom.


Studied for a B.A. degree in languages and mathematics at the Transvaal University College in Pretoria, then a B.A. (Hons) at the University of the Witwatersrand, began a a degree in literature and drama at the Gemeentelike Universiteit , Amsterdam (1936-8, but had to return as war became imminent). In 1939 he completed a D.Litt at the University of Pretoria.


From 1921 until 1928 he taught Latin in Wolmaransstad, and Afrikaans from 1929 until 1935 in Johannesburg at the Boys High School Helpmekaar. From 1939 - 1949 he was a lecturer at the Teacher's Training College in Pretoria, then became professor in Dutch literature at the Stellenbosch University (1950-1966), cultural attaché in the SA embassy in Den Haag, Netherlands (1967-1971).

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

Besides his numerous novels and stories, he wrote two original Afrikaans plays, and was an award winning translator of play texts by Shakespeare, Goethe and Schiller.

Original plays

En hadde de liefde niet ..., a drama in five acts, Bloemfontein, 1935(1939, 1948)

Translations and adaptations

He was an award winning translator, and his Afrikaans translations of plays include

So praat die ou rivier, an adaptation of Friedrich Hebbel's Maria Magdalena, performed by NTO in 1954, published by Nasionale Boekhandel, 1956.

Voorlopige Vonnis ("Provisional Sentence") by Jozef van Hoeck (performed by NTO, 1958).

Macbeth by Shakespeare (1965).(Performed by the University of Stellenbosch in 1967.) This translation was used as the basis for macbeth.slapeloos, a play devised and directed by Marthinus Basson in 2013-2014.

Faust I by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Published in Cape Town by Nasionale Boekhandel, 1966).

Don Carlos by Friedrich Schiller, Published as a National Government publication, [S.l.] : DALRO, 1969.

Hamlet by Shakespeare, Published in Cape Town by Tafelberg Uitgewers, 1973.

Midsomernagdroom (A Midsummer Night's Dream) by Shakespeare, Published in Cape Town by Human en Rousseau, 1975.

Die Wintersprokie (A Winter's Tale), by Shakespeare, Published in Cape Town by Human en Rousseau, 1975.

His adaptations include Maria Magdalena by Friedrich Hubbel

Organizational role

A passionate supporter of Afrikaans language and literature and a brilliant and sought after public speaker, he was a founder-member of numerous influential cultural organizations over the years, including the Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurvereniginge(FAK, 1929), the Handhawersbond (1930-1935), the Voortrekkers youth movement (1931), the Afrikaanse Taal- en Kultuurvereniging (ATKV, 1931), and the Afrikaanse Skrywerskring.

He was also president of the Transvaal Kunsvereniging (Arts Association) and member of the National Drama Society.

He became a board member for the Cape region on NTO in 195*, and was heavily and controversially involved in arguing for a regional branch and ultimately leading to the founding of the four performing arts councils. He and was on the first board of CAPAB (?) and served as a member of the Publications Control Board in the 1970s.

He was also instrumental in inviting Fred Engelen to become the head of the Drama Department at the University of Stellenbosch.

Awards, etc

Twice awarded a Hertzog Prize for his drama translations (1966 and 1969).




HAUM, 1974. Stellenbosse Galery, p.15.

Rosemarie Breuer, 2005. Stellenbosch Writers, p.90.

M E J Bauermeister 1969. Eitemal : 'n bibliografie , Stellenbosch : Universiteit van Stellenbosch, Departement van Biblioteekkunde.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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