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Bessie Head


Bessie Head was born in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa in 1937 in a mental hospital, her father a black stablehand and her mother a wealthy Scottish woman, who was later committed to the mental hospital. She was taken from her mother and raised in a foster home till she was thirteen. After starting out as a teacher, she gave up teaching for journalism. However her marital problems led her to leave South Africa with her son and go to Botswana, where she spent fifteen years in a refugee community in extreme poverty. All her writings were written in Botswana. She died of hepatitis at the age of 48. Her writing which has strong political overtones is very personal and autobiographical.

Books about Bessie Head

Cecil Abrahams: The Tragic Life — Bessie Head and Literature in South Africa
Gillian Stead Eilersen: Bessie Head: Thunder Behind Her Ears – Her Life and Writing
Virginia Uzoma Ola: Life and Works of Bessie Head

Other links

Her homepage
Bessie Head
Bessie Head
Bessie Head
Bessie Head
Bessie Amelia Head
When I Was Gone, She Sent Her Memory
Looking for Rain God (story by Head)


1968 When Rain Clouds Gather
1971 Maru
1973 A Question of Power
1977 The Collector of Treasures and other Botswana Village Tales
1981 Serowe Village Of The Rainwind
1984 A Bewitched Crossroad : an African Saga
1990 A Woman Alone : Autobiographical Writings
1991 A Gesture of Belonging : Letters from Bessie Head, 1965-1979
1993 The Cardinals, with Meditations and Stories
1996 Native Life in South Africa: Before & Since the European War & the Boer Rebellion (with Sol T Plaatje)
2005 Imaginative Trespasser. Letters between Bessie Head, Patrick and Wendy Cullinan 1963-1977