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South Coast's intriguing literary history
21 Sep 2011

FOR those who, when they are travelling, like to know something about the literary life and history of where they are, KwaZulu-Natal Literary Tourism has added another Literary Trail to its collection.

The South Coast Literary Trail has joined the Midlands Trail; Ink Writers’ Trail; Cato Manor and Grey Street Trails and the Rider Haggard and Alan Paton Trails.

The south coast is often seen as just a holiday destination, somewhere to lie on the beach, try to find elusive sardines, and take a well-earned break. And the holiday aspect features in various of the books mentioned, including the autobiography of Victor Frank Steibel, who went on to found a fashion house and designed clothes for Princess Margaret.

But it was also where many indentured labourers from India ended up on the sugar-cane farms, and is the home of Adams College, founded in 1836 and still in existence. Adams features in the writing of Es’kia Mphahlele (Down Second Avenue) and also in the correspondence of Lily Moya and Mabel Palmer, which was published and edited by Shula Marks, as Not an Experimental Doll.

The south coast was the home of Voorslag, the magazine that appeared in 1926 and 1927, and was largely written in Sezela by Roy Campbell, William Plomer and Laurens van der Post and aimed, in Plomer’s words, “to sting with satire the mental hindquarters of the bovine citizenry of the Union [of South Africa]”.

Other writers included on the trail include Prithiraj Dullay, whose Salt Water Runs in My Veins was published in 2010; Daphne Rooke (A Grove of Fever Trees; Ratoons); epic poet Mazise Kunene (Emperor Shaka the Great) and Michael Cawood Green, whose For the Sake of Silence, a novelisation of the founding of Mariannhill Monastery, won the 2008 Olive Schreiner Prize.

Literary Tourism’s tour guide can arrange for guided tours of the trails, or those interested can get a copy of the trail brochures and follow the routes themselves. For more information, visit www.literary tourism.co.za — Books Editor.

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