She was born in Napier in the Overberg district of South Africa, where she completed high school. She then went to Stellenbosch University, where she obtained a BA in 1952, having studied drama under Robert Mohr.
In 1954 she moved to Pretoria where she met and married the Estonian linguist and translator Ants Kirsipuu.
In 1993 they moved to Cape Town, where her husband passed away in 2003.
Her career as writer
Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance
She wrote two one-act plays, Katlagters and Op Deurreis that were published in the periodicals Wurm and Contrast. She also wrote a play for children, Dawid, die Dik Dom Kat published by DALRO and Trippens se Patatta. **
She went on to work as a freelance actress for The Space Theatre ** and **. Among her key performances were in God's Forgotten (Pieter-Dirk Uys, 1976), Strike Up the Banned (Pieter-Dirk Uys, 1976), **. She played in 'n Bruid in die Môre, The Chairs and Drie Susters directed by Robert Mohr. She starred in Barney Simon’s production of Fugard’s Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act together with Vivian Solomons at the Market Theatre in 1979.
She wrote the play Die Patatta and co-operated with Ants Kirsipuu in translating Andorra and Leonce en Lena from the German into Afrikaans. She translated Die Dans van die Reier, Die Paradysboot, WAM (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) from their respective original languages into Afrikaans.
She also became an excellent film and television actress, appearing in films such as The Guest'.
She is one of a handful of writers to have won the Hertzog Prize in two different categories. She won it first for poetry in 1977 and then for fiction in 1991.
She has been awarded:
1977: Hertzog Prize for Poetry for Van vergetelheid en van glans.
1984: CNA, Louis Luyt and Ou Mutual Prizes for Monsterverse.
1988: Grinzane Cavour Prize for Spedizione al Baobab.
2008: SALA Literary Lifetime Award.
Die Patatta theatre programme notes, circa 1965.
Die Burger, 7 August 2008.
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