D. J. Opperman

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D.J. Opperman
BornDiederik (Dirk) Johannes Opperman
(1914-09-29)29 September 1914
Dundee, Natal Province
Died22 September 1985(1985-09-22) (aged 70)
Stellenbosch, Western Cape
NationalitySouth African
SpouseMarié van Reenen
Children3 daughters

Diederik (or Dirk) Johannes Opperman, commonly referred to as D.J. Opperman (/ˈɔːpərmʌn/ 29 September 1914 – 22 September 1985) was an Afrikaans poet. He is considered to be one of the best known Afrikaans poets of the twentieth century.


He was born on 29 September 1914 in Dundee in Natal, where he grew up. He went to school in the towns of Estcourt and Vryheid, and afterwards received an M.A. degree from the University of Natal. He taught at schools in Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg, and later on became editor of Die Huisgenoot.[1] In 1949 he became a lecturer at the University of Cape Town. During this period he completed one of his most important publications – Digters van Dertig (Poets of the thirties) – in 1953.

He won the coveted Hertzog prize for poetry in 1947 for his collection Heilige beeste ("Holy cattle"). From 1960 to 1975 he was a professor of Afrikaans at Stellenbosch University, where he also served on the editorial board of the publication Standpunte ("Points of View"). He died in 1985 in Stellenbosch.

He won four Hertzog prizes (in 1947, 1956, 1969 and 1980), four Hofmeyer prizes (in 1954, 1956, 1966 and 1980), two CNA Prizes (in 1964 and 1980), a prize from the "Drie-Eeue Stigting" ("Three Centuries Foundation") in 1956, the Louis Luyt-prize in 1980 and the Gustav Preller prize for literary criticism in 1985.[2]

The South African composers Cromwell Everson and Prof Piet de Villiers wrote music for some of Opperman's poems, such as Kontraste and Nagstorm oor die see.

List of works[edit]


  • Heilige Beeste ("Holy cows" 1943)
  • Negester oor Ninevé ("Nine star over Niniveh"
  • Joernaal van Jorik ("The Journal of Jorik" 1949)
  • Engel uit die klip ("Angel from the Stone" 1948)
  • Blom en baaierd ("Flower and Chaos" or "Flower and Rubble" 1948)
  • Dolosse ("Knucklebones" )
  • Kuns-mis ("Fertilizer")
  • Edms. Bpk ("Pty. Ltd")
  • Komas uit 'n bamboesstok ("Comas from a Bamboo Pole" 1979)

Verse plays[edit]

  • Periandros van Korinthe ("Periandros of Corinth" 1954)
  • Vergelegen (A place name, lit. "faraway" 1956)
  • Voëlvry ("Outlaw"; lit. "bird-free" 1968)

Essays on literature[edit]

  • Wiggelstok ("Divining rod")
  • Naaldekoker ("Dragonfly")
  • Verspreide opstelle ("Spread-out essays" – the direct opposite of "Collected essays" in Afrikaans)


  1. ^ "Skrywers in Afrikaans: D.J. Opperman". Mieliestronk.co.za. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  2. ^ "Authors: D.J. Opperman". NB Publishers. Retrieved 30 July 2014.