Culture

Famous Writers from South Africa

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List of famous writers from South Africa, listed alphabetically with photos when available. South Africa is home to many prolific writers, including those who write fiction, non-fiction, poetry, biographies and more. These are some of the best South African writers that have ever lived, so if you're a native of South Africa and an aspiring writer then use this list as inspiration to achieve your own writing goals.

Makhosazana Xaba and Frene Ginwala are included on this list along with many more.

This list answers the questions, "Who are popular South African writers?" and "Which writers are from South Africa?"

You can click on the names of these renowned writers of South Africa in order to get more information about each one. Some of these historic writers may no longer be living in South Africa, but they're all of South Africa descent.
1
J. M. Coetzee is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
age 79
John Maxwell "J. M." Coetzee is a South African novelist, essayist, linguist, translator and recipient of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature. He relocated to Australia in 2002 and ...more
2
Nadine Gordimer is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
Dec. at 91 (1923-2014)
Nadine Gordimer was a South African writer, political activist and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature. She was recognized as a woman "who through her magnificent epic writing ...more
3
Laurence Lerner is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
age 94
Laurence Lerner is a South African born British literary critic and poet and novelist. He was born in Cape Town to parents of Lithuanian-Jewish ancestry, and educated at the University of Cape ...more
4
Rachel Zadok is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
age 47
Rachel Zadok is a South African writer and a Whitbread First Novel Award nominee. She is the author of the novels Gem Squash, Tokoloshe and Sister-Sister.
5
Todd Gitlin is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
age 76
Todd Gitlin is an American sociologist, political writer, novelist, and cultural commentator. He has written widely on the mass media, politics, intellectual life and the arts, for both popular ...more
6
Basil Rathbone is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
Dec. at 75 (1892-1967)
Philip St. John Basil Rathbone, MC was a South African-born English actor. He rose to prominence in the UK as a Shakespearean stage actor and went on to appear in over 70 films, primarily ...more
7
Lebogang Mashile is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
Lebogang Mashile is a poet and actress.
8
Johannes Meintjes is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
Dec. at 57 (1923-1980)
Johannes Petrus Meintjes was a South African artist and writer. Meintjes grew up on his family's farm in the mountains near Molteno. He lived and worked in Cape Town for several years, taught ...more
9
Cyril Cusack is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
Dec. at 83 (1910-1993)
Cyril Cusack was an actor.
10
Nelson Mandela is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
Dec. at 95 (1918-2013)
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was South Africa's first ...more
11
Ronald Harwood is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
age 85
Sir Ronald Harwood, CBE, FRSL is an author, playwright and screenwriter. He is most noted for his plays for the British stage as well as the screenplays for The Dresser and The Pianist, for ...more
12
Andrew Murray is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
Dec. at 89 (1828-1917)
Andrew Murray was a South African writer, teacher, and Christian pastor. Murray considered missions to be "the chief end of the church."
13
Athol Fugard is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
age 87
Athol Fugard is an actor, screenwriter and film director.
14
Antony Sher is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
age 70
Sir Antony Sher, KBE is a South African-born British actor, writer and theatre director.
15
André Brink is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
age 84
André Philippus Brink, OIS was a South African novelist. He wrote in both Afrikaans and English and was a Professor of English at the University of Cape Town. In the 1960s he, Ingrid ...more
16
Ian Dalrymple is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
Dec. at 86 (1903-1989)
Ian Dalrymple was a British screenwriter, film director and producer.
17
Lindsay Armstrong is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
Lindsay Armstrong is a popular South African-Australian writer of over 65 romance novels. She published her novels in Mills & Boon's since 1981. Armstrong was born and raised in South ...more
18
Janet Suzman is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
age 80
Dame Janet Suzman, DBE is a South African/British actress who enjoyed a successful early career in the Royal Shakespeare Company, later replaying many Shakespearean roles, among others, on TV. ...more
19
Abba Eban is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
Dec. at 87 (1915-2002)
Abba Eban was an Israeli diplomat and politician, and a scholar of the Arabic and Hebrew languages. In his career he was Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister, Education Minister, Deputy Prime ...more
20
Neill Blomkamp is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
age 40
Neill Blomkamp is a South African–Canadian film and advertisement director, writer, producer and animator. Blomkamp employs a documentary-style, hand-held, cinéma vérité ...more
21
Gavin Hood is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
age 56
Gavin Hood is a South African filmmaker, screenwriter, producer and actor, best known for writing and directing Tsotsi, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. He also ...more
22
Alan Paton is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
Dec. at 85 (1903-1988)
Alan Stewart Paton was a South African author and anti-apartheid activist.
23
Noel Langley is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
Dec. at 69 (1911-1980)
Noel Langley was a South African novelist, playwright, screenwriter and director. He wrote the screenplay which formed the basis for the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz and is one of the three ...more
24
Darrell Roodt is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
age 57
Darrell Roodt is a South African film director, screenwriter and producer. His film Sarafina! was screened out of competition at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival. His 2012 film Little One was ...more
25
Jon Blair is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Famous Writers from South Africa
age 69
Jon Blair is a South African-born writer, film producer and director of documentary films, drama and comedy who has lived in England and the United States ever since he was drafted into the ...more