Dennis Brutus

The South African Years
Publisher: Best Red
Availability:in stock 1000 item(s)

About the book


South African poet and political activist Dennis Brutus (1924-2009) wrote poetry of the most exquisite lyrical beauty and intense power. And through his various political activities, he played a uniquely significant role in mobilising and intensifying opposition to injustice and oppression – initially in South Africa, but later throughout the rest of the world as well. This book focuses on the life of Dennis Brutus in South Africa from his childhood until he went into exile on an exit permit in 1966. It is also an attempt to acknowledge Brutus’ literary and political work and, in a sense, to reintroduce Brutus to South Africa.

This book places his own voice at the centre of his life story. It is told primarily in his own words – through newspaper and journal articles, tape recordings, interviews, speeches, court records and correspondence. It draws extensively on archival material not yet available in the public domain, as well as on interviews with several people who interacted with Brutus during his early years in South Africa.

In particular, it examines his participation in some of the most influential organisations of his time, including the Teachers’ League of South Africa, the Anti-Coloured Affairs Department movement and the Coloured National Convention, the Co-ordinating Committee for International Recognition in Sport, the South African Sports Association and the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee, which all campaigned against racism in South African sport. Brutus left behind an important legacy in literature involvement, in community affairs and politics in as well.


About the authors


Tyrone August completed his doctorate on the poetry of Dennis Brutus in the English department at the University of the Western Cape in 2014. He developed and completed this biography of Brutus as a postdoctoral fellow in the English department at Stellenbosch University from 2016 to 2018, and is currently a research fellow in the department. 

He had previously worked as a journalist on various newspapers and magazines for almost three decades, including as editor of the Cape Times newspaper and Leadership magazine. He is a founding member of the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) and a member of the Academic and Non-Fiction Authors’ Association of South Africa  (ANFASA).




Tyrone August has brought us an invaluable gem in producing this work on Dennis Brutus. Brutus ennobled a cause that had confounded many a politician, his sensitivity and empathy finding resonance with forces combating injustice and iniquity everywhere. We owe a debt of gratitude to August for mining the archive and bringing to life one of the most important sons of our wounded soil. Mandla Langa, poet, short-story writer, novelist, and cultural activist


He (Dennis Brutus) was an expressive artist at a particular point in time, giving us access to what was not easily available – the inner life of an oppressed people. He journeyed with poetry and politics for the greater part of his life. Professor Njabulo Ndebele, academic, author and chairman of the Nelson Mandela Foundation


August’s biography makes extensive use of archival documents, interviews and, above all, draws on Brutus’s poetry to give us a fulsome story of his early years in South Africa. The work is an empathetic yet dispassionate, critical account of the making of the great poet and political radical. It is considered, elegant and sensitive, allowing Brutus, through his poetry and prose, to co-narrate these formative years. Shaun Viljoen, author and lecturer in the English department of the University of Stellenbosch









Chapter 1:1924–1943 

Chapter 2:1944–1950S 



Chapter 3:1950S–1962 

Chapter 4:1962–1964 



Chapter 5:1964–1965



Chapter 6:1965–1966 205


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