Arthur Nortje

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Arthur Nortje
Arthur Nortje.jpg
Born (1942-12-16)16 December 1942
Died 11 December 1970(1970-12-11) (aged 27)
Nationality South Africa
Education University College of the Western Cape
Alma mater Jesus College, Oxford
Genre Poetry

Arthur Kenneth Nortje (16 December 1942 – 11 December 1970[1]) was a South African poet.


Nortje was born in Oudtshoorn and went to school in Port Elizabeth, where he was taught by the acclaimed writer Dennis Brutus. After school he studied at the University College of the Western Cape and later received a scholarship to Jesus College, Oxford in the UK, where he obtained a BA degree.[2]

He emigrated to Canada in 1967, teaching in Hope, British Columbia and Toronto but returned to Oxford in 1970 to work on a doctorate. He died shortly afterwards of a drug overdose.

His poems were published posthumously in the collections Dead Roots (1973) and Lonely Against the Light (1973). They deal extensively with his own personal alienation, being classified as coloured in apartheid South Africa, and his experiences of exile. In 2000, the University of South Africa Press in Pretoria published Anatomy of Dark: Collected Poems of Arthur Nortje. His works have been dealt with extensively in Ralph Pordzik's Die moderne englischsprachige Lyrik in Südafrika 1950-1980: Eine Darstellung aus funktions- und wirkungsgeschichtlicher Perspektive and in an article entitled: "No Longer Need I Shout Freedom in the House: Arthur Nortje, the English Poetical Tradition and the Breakdown of Communication in South African English Poetry in the 1960s", published in English Studies in Africa 41.2 (1998) 35-53.


  • Dead roots: poems, Heinemann, 1973, ISBN 9780435901417
  • Dirk Klopper, ed. Anatomy of dark: collected poems of Arthur Nortje, University of South Africa, 2000
  • Craig W. McLuckie, Ross Tyner, eds. Arthur Nortje, Poet and South African: New Critical and Contextual Essays, Unisa Press, University of South Africa, 2004, ISBN 9781868882595


  1. ^ Arthur Kenneth Nortje, The Literary Encyclopedia
  2. ^ "Background: The Nortje Collection". University of South Africa (Department of Corporate Communication and Marketing). 22 March 2006. Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-26.