Harry Bloom

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Harry Bloom
Born Solomon Harris Bloom
(1913-01-01)1 January 1913
Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Died 28 July 1981(1981-07-28) (aged 68)
Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom
Occupation Journalist, novelist, political activist
Nationality South African

Harry Saul Bloom (1 January 1913 – 28 July 1981) was a South African journalist, novelist, and lecturer.

Early life and career[edit]

Born Solomon Harris Bloom, he was educated at the University of the Witwatersrand, obtaining his law degree in 1937 and subsequently became an advocate in Johannesburg. He married Beryl Gordon in 1940 and they moved to London where he worked as a war correspondent during the Second World War, living in Old Compton Street during the blitz. He wrote under the pseudonym Walter Storm, and covered the Nuremberg trials after the war.

Beryl and Harry then emigrated to Czechoslovakia where their first child Peter was born in 1947, but he died aged two weeks. Together they wrote the book - "We meet the Czechoslovaks", an account of their early years in Czechoslovakia. Beryl later played an active role in editing, advising and typing the manuscripts for his subsequent books. In October 1948 their second child, Susan (photographer and jewellery designer Susan Storm Bloom) was born in Prague. Fearful for their security as Stalinism gained strength in post-war Eastern Europe, they returned to South Africa where they settled in Bramley, Johannesburg. In 1953 their son Stephen (photographer and author Steve Bloom) was born and in 1957 the family uprooted again and moved to Cape Town.

Life and work in apartheid South Africa[edit]

Bloom's first novel, Episode (1956), was later retitled Transvaal Episode. This book, an account of an uprising in the fictional township of Nelstroom in the aftermath of the 1952–53 African National Congress defiance campaign, was banned by the South African government for being dangerous to the safety of the apartheid state. The novel won the British Authors' Club Prize for the best novel of 1956, but Bloom was denied an exit permit to travel to England to receive the prize. The book was dedicated[1] to four people: his wife Beryl, who provided editorial assistance and typed the manuscript; Bram Fischer, Bloom's close friend who defended Nelson Mandela at the Rivonia Trial; Archbishop Trevor Huddleston, and Guy Routh. Bloom worked with Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg in the 1950s. During the state of emergency that followed the Sharpville massacre in 1960, he was detained for forty-five days without charges or trial—first at Roeland Street Prison and later at Worcester Prison near Cape Town. During his detention Bloom began working on his second novel, Whittaker's Wife (1962).[2] He also wrote the play for the musical King Kong: An African Jazz Opera (1961), a tragedy of a black boxer from the ghetto, that reached a multiracial audience both locally and internationally. Episode was republished in 1981.

Exile and work in England[edit]

In 1963 Bloom went into exile due to his opposition to apartheid. He travelled to Kenya, Tanzania and then London where he settled. In 1967, he was appointed Lecture in Law at the University of Kent, and met and married writer Sonia Copeland. With founder, Professor Patrick Fitzgerald, he helped to set up the first law department at the university which was rooted in interdisciplinary ethos. He went on to collaborate with Igor Alexander, emeritus professor at Imperial College, on the societal impact of computer networks and then worked for a newly set up unit at the university - the Unit for Legal Research in Computer and Communications, which became involved in the consideration of the legal protection of computer software and the legal retrieval of statutes. This involved meetings with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), one of the specialized agencies of the United Nation, which was created in 1967 "to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world." Many of the components of his work, and the articles he wrote, had a significant impact in the early days of the transition from the offline into the online world. He is remembered "as the founder of the teaching of the law affecting the media in the UK."[3]

Personal illness and death[edit]

Suffering from hypertension, Bloom fell victim to an initial and then later a serious stroke in the latter half of the 1970s. He was partially paralysed down his left side, unable to walk properly and his ability to speak was severely curtailed. His speech problems and lack of proper mobility forced him to give up his lecturing career, but he was able to carry out research work for a while from home. His health continued to deteriorate until his death in Kent and Canterbury Hospital on 28 July 1981, aged 68. He is buried in Canterbury. His first wife, Beryl, continued to live in Cape Town and died at Victoria Court on 28 September 2009, aged 88.


  1. ^ Episode: Publisher: Doubleday (1955) ASIN: B000NQ1ZH8) Dedication reads: For Beryl, Bram, Guy and Trevor, who in various ways helped me write this book.
  2. ^ Bloom, Harry Whittaker's Wife, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1962.
  3. ^ "Harry Saul Bloom (1913–1981)". Dx.doi.org. 2013-02-28. Retrieved 2014-03-23.