Lionel Abrahams

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Lionel Abrahams
Born (1928-04-11)11 April 1928
Pretoria, South Africa
Died 31 May 2004(2004-05-31) (aged 76)[1]
Occupation Poet
Nationality South African

Lionel Abrahams (11 April 1928 – 31 May 2004)[1] was a South African novelist, poet, editor, critic, essayist and publisher. He was born in Johannesburg, where he lived his entire life.[2] He was born with cerebral palsy and had to use a wheelchair until 11 years of age.[1]

Best known for his poetry, he was mentored by Herman Charles Bosman,[1] and he and later edited seven volumes of Bosman's posthumously published works.[3] Abrahams went on to become one of the most influential figures in South African literature in his own right,[4][5] publishing numerous poems, essays, and two novels.[1] Through Renoster Books, which he started in 1956, he published works by Oswald Mtshali and Mongane Wally Serote heralding the emergence of black poetry during the apartheid era.[1]

In 1986, he married Jane Fox.[1] That year, he was awarded honorary doctorates of literature by the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Natal.[6]


  • The Celibacy of Felix Greenspan: A novel in 18 stories, published by Bateleur Press, 1977
  • The White Life of Felix Greenspan, published by M&G Books, 2002


  • Journal of a New Man, published by Ad Donker, 1984
  • The Writer in Sand, published by Ad Donker, 1988
  • A Dead Tree Full of Live Birds, published by Snail Press, 1988
  • Chaos Theory of the Heart, published by Jacana Media, 2005
  • To Halley's Comet, publishers unknown.

Works about Lionel Abrahams[edit]

  • Lionel Abrahams: A Reader, ed. Patrick Cullinan, published by Ad Donker, 1988
  • A Writer in Stone: South African Writers Celebrate the 70th Birthday of Lionel Abrahams, ed. G. Friedman and Roy Blumenthal, published by David Philip, 1998


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Pogrund, Anne (9 June 2004). "Lionel Abrahams: Mischievous guru of South African letters". The Independent. Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
  2. ^ Kalechofsky, Roberta; Nadine Gordimer (1982). South African Jewish Voices. Micah Publications. p. 268. ISBN 0-916288-10-2. 
  3. ^ Ferguson, Gus. "Lionel Abrahams". South Africa - Poetry International Web. Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
  4. ^ Friedman, Graeme; Roy Blumenthal; Lionel Abrahams (1998). A Writer in Stone: South African Writers Celebrate the 70th Birthday of Lionel Abrahams. David Philip Publishers. p. 45. ISBN 0-86486-428-0. 
  5. ^ Abrahams, Lionel (2005). Chaos Theory of the Heart & Other Poems Mainly Since 1990. Jacana Media. p. 1. ISBN 1-77009-097-5. 
  6. ^ Brown, Duncan; Bruno Van Dyk (1991). Exchanges: South African Writing in Transition. University of Natal Press. p. 110. ISBN 0-86980-789-7.