Di Beeton's name echoes that of her namesake Mrs Isabella Beeton, the author of perhaps the most famous book of household management and cooking ever published. Beeton’s Book of Household Management was a distinctively English book that appeared in 1861; it was the last word in being a Victorian mistress of an independent household; it’s a tome of over 1000 pages and covers everything from home nursing, maintaining households, checking on character references for servants, the legal details of buying a house, the anatomy of a fowl or making rhubarb wine
This is a collection of papers presented at a 2018 colloquium convened by the well-established Wits History Workshop, the Wits School of Architecture and Planning and the Goethe Institute. Conferences always produce an eclectic and distinctive mix of ideas and discussions. It is a platform to showcase research and produce a paper which will in turn bring further funding for ongoing research. Hence a wide range of heritage themes and buildings are explored by 14 contributors.
This concise history of pandemics in South Africa packs a lot of punch. Its republication is timely. It takes a holistic view of epidemics, is an easy intelligent read with large print and small pages. The reading time is no more than two to three hours.
There is enormous interest in early African history. It is a growing field with old assumptions and theories about settlement patterns in Africa challenged, overthrown and reinterpreted. Who were the past societies and communities of Southern Africa? Where did they come from and when? What were the patterns of migration and conquest? Where did people live, how did they live and what happened to these early societies? We have far more questions than answers.
This is a lush plush book on the Carlton Hotel circa 2013 but published in 2017. The Carlton is a ghost place, a mothballed hotel and a symbol both of what downtown Johannesburg was and what it has become. The Carlton is also a metaphor for the ultimate in international style, luxury and aspiration in Johannesburg. The Carlton was the place where Johannesburg showed that it could be a world class city in the decades of the seventies and eighties.
I read Politics and Community- Based Research: Perspectives from the Yeoville Studio, Johannesburg with great interest as I have known Yeoville since I was a child and have many memories of the suburb. I have never lived in Yeoville but I have visited friends, was a regular cinema goer at the Piccadilly, shopped in Yeoville, bought petrol at the garage on Cavendish Road, used the tailor and bought fabrics down Rockey Street and swum in the Yeoville municipal pool. The most reasonable locksmith and cobbler are still at the Yeoville market.
Peter Elliott, the author of this biography, is the great grandson of Sir Thomas Muir; Elliott has used the family connection and his personal archives to write an interesting biography of a now mainly forgotten Cape colonial educational administrator and mathematician. This is an even-handed biography full of appeal and does not shy away from the points of controversy around Muir’s attitudes and how policies of a century ago are to be evaluated today.
There is always some excitement in our household when a new Hidden book arrives. Hidden Karoo is out and arrived by courier last week. I start by saying it is an impressively rich book of photographs supported by a sound commentary. This book celebrates the heritage, architecture and antique treasures to be found in the Karoo.
Richard Wadley is a retired geologist who lives in the Waterberg. Over the last two decades he has gathered a vast archive of historical information on the Waterberg. It is a great compendium of knowledge with layer upon layer of research and knowledge organized around the many stories of the people past and present. He documents the history of the Waterberg in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. This is a study of depth, extraordinary detail and great richness.
Jacqueline Kalley is proud of her descent from Dick King, the Natal pioneer who stands tall as a folklore hero of the early 19th century when Durban was very young. He is South Africa’ Paul Revere because he made his epic ride in 1842 from Port Natal/Durban to Grahamstown to summons help when the early English settlers and troops were under siege by Andries Pretorius, the Boer leader, and his Voortrekker clan who sought to extend their own Republic of Natalia. King was young and adventurous, he was an elephant hunter and a trader. He came of 1820 settler stock.
Deneys Schreiner (1923-2008) was a liberal and an academic, a scientist and a Vice Principal at Natal University (Pietermaritzburg Campus). He was known as the man with the flowing beard, which he kept in place and sprouting from his face as a personal protest against the apartheid regime.
When I was invited to review this book I had hoped that I would be in for a treat about the history of photography in Southern Africa and that the visual image seized upon joyously by the scholar as evidence of past societies would reveal new sources and insights. I was initially disappointed as there is little here about the history of photography in Southern Africa from its introduction in the 1840s and the technical advances that enabled photographs to record places, events and people.
The title, Civilising Grass - The Art of the Lawn on the South African Highveld, intrigued and immediately raised questions. What is the difference between grass, veld and lawn? Why is there an art in its cultivation? What does a lawn mean? Why do some people spend precious leisure time mowing a lawn? Why do lawns matter and what do they represent? If you read this book you will find some of the answers. This is certainly a book to set you thinking. We all benefit from the author’s scholarship (the bibliography is vast).
This book was first published in 1984 by the Swedish Council for Building Research. This is a new second edition. The text remains the same as the original study but it has been updated with colour photographs taken at the time as slides but now reproduced as quality colour photographs. There is a new foreword, preface and postscript.
To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the arrival of approximately 4 000 British settlers on the frontier of the Cape Colony in 1820, the Eastern Cape branch of the Genealogical Society of South Africa has published this substantial volume of local history, 1820 Settlers and other early British Settlers to the Cape Colony, edited by John Wilmot. At over 600 pages and 175 chapters, this book is a massive chronicle with many descendants contributing stories and family reminiscences about their ancestors.
Once Natal became a British colony in 1843 there were opportunities for British immigrants to come as settlers, farmers and craftsmen. Over time thousands of such hopeful people arrived by sailing ship to start new lives, establish families and make their fortunes on farms and plantations and estates in Natal from about 1850 onwards or to populate the principal towns, Durban, Pietermaritzburg and Ladysmith. Prior to railways, travel inland was arduous so these were pioneers who had to be resilient to survive and thrive.
This book is a wonderful introduction to a unique South African architectural tradition - the corbelled structures of the Great Karoo. The book immediately engaged my interest and had this not been a stay-at-home time of pandemic, I would have been packing a bag and heading for the Cape, book in hand. It is so dense with information and photographs that it immediately becomes a big guide book to a unique part of the world - the Karoo. It is a cross between a travel guide and an introduction to archaeology and architecture.
This is the personal story of a remarkable man who lived a long life. Mlangeni lived in the shadows of Mandela and other far better known ANC leaders, struggle icons and policy makers. Hence his self-assumed title of "the backroom boy". He says he was never at the forefront of ANC politics. After 1994 he was not given a senior position in the post-apartheid democratic government, though he became an ANC Member of Parliament and he served on the Sport and Recreation Portfolio committee (hardly a policy driving position).
Judy Campbell is South African born but emigrated to Australia nearly 40 years ago in the early 1980s. This is her memoir of growing up in South Africa, the high jinks of a rackety teenage life in Cape Town in the seventies combined with the story of her immediate family and the family history of her mother’s family, the Luyts. Judy is a talented person - musician, singer, systems analyst, choir director and now author. She comes across as a strong woman who chose the life she wanted as an adult woman. It is an unusual memoir because it is her story, her parents
Sometimes it takes a foreigner to recognize a powerful South African story. The title is arresting Barnato’s Diamonds. Such a title must surely refer to the diamonds owned or mined by Barney Barnato the flamboyant mining pioneer who made his first fortune in Kimberley in the 1870s and his second fortune on the Witwatersrand and Johannesburg after 1886. He was the man who founded Johannesburg Consolidated Investment Company, affectionately called “Johnnies” or JCI. Barnato was involved in everything that made Johannesburg, the mining camp that became the
This is a collection of essays by 12 distinguished academics who are top art historians, visual culture analysts, historians and educational leaders. They have teamed up to analyse the phenomenon of Afrikaner nationalism as this political movement or ideology found expression in visual images, public sculptures, architecture, cartoons, and the Voortrekker Monument.
This book does not appear to have one single editor but is a Don Nelson publishing project. Chapters on this selection of prominent South African schools have been contributed by people associated with the schools or compiled from previous histories. Hence the first impression is that an enormous amount of effort has been poured into this publication with many individuals writing chapters and many others editing. Archivists and curators have combed the archives and museums to supply the photographs. It is a visually pleasing book with an old fashioned period feel
Dr Pam Heller-Stern has written a novel based on the life and times of Jose Dale Lace, grand dame of Edwardian Johannesburg. Married to John Dale Lace, the couple commissioned the architect Herbert Baker to build them a grand mansion on the Parktown Ridge. Completed in 1904, Northwards was one of the most imposing and enduring of the mansions of Parktown.
We have all been looking forward to the appearance of Hidden Pretoria and we are not disappointed. The launch took place in October at the University of Pretoria on a clear starlit night under a magical crescent moon. It was a beautiful evening, the stylish launch comprised a three way conversation about the book, a photographic exhibition of Proust’s Pretoria images, and a sales table manned by Protea books.
Dr Neville Alexander (1936-2012) was a distinguished intellectual, educationalist and South African struggle hero. He spent ten years on Robben Island as a political prisoner. He was a man of principle, an humanitarian and a campaigner for justice.
In 1960 Hendrik Verwoerd, the Prime Minister of South Africa came to Johannesburg to open the Rand Easter Show at Milner Park. It was a traditional annual event of the Witwatersrand Agricultural Society and a highlight of the Johannesburg calendar. In fact the Rand Easter Show was in everyone’s calendar - sportsmen, the horsey set, farmers who bred prize Ayrshire cattle, the radio world who ran their stations from the Tower of Light, housewives shopping for the newest home appliances, children who delighted in the funfair. Everyone looked forward to a day of fun
Everyone is interested in the human race and the age old question of human origins. Who was Adam and is there a biblical Eve? Human evolution has placed scientists, philosophers and religious thinkers at loggerheads for two hundred years. Here is a book to read closely; it is rich in detail, data and the scientific evidence as to why we all came from Africa.
This is a very early survey of Johannesburg circa 1893 by Henry Longland whose 1890s directories are an excellent source of early information about Johannesburg Streets. This slender book, just 60 pages, has been reproduced from the British Museum rare document collection and is available online from Amazon and Abe books.
A pleasure and delight of combing a bookshop in a random way (this is what browsing means) is that you are guaranteed to make a 'find'. A serendipitous happy find you never knew about but it instantly becomes a prized possession. A recent visit to Bookdealers of Melville yielded just such a small delight. It is a thinning small book on Arthur Elliott, the photographer of the architecture of the Cape and the master of black and white, light and shadow images of Cape scenes. Arthur Elliott (b. 1870, d.
Newspapers are the grist to daily living, you have a subscription, buy one at the local cafe or fall for the sales patter of the newspaper man or woman on the street corner. I can't live without a newspaper. My expectation is that a good daily newspaper will report on daily happenings in politics, international affairs, business and sport. There may be some editorial analysis and a favourite columnist worth reading. I look for balance, accuracy, sobriety and interesting stories in a newspaper.
This is a history of chieftaincies, tribes, rivalries, land congestion, conflict over land and a repeated pattern of rural violence placed in historical context but also with an eye on the intractability of current politics. The background is set with a quick documenting of early history on the Tambookie frontier of the Eastern Cape of South Africa (take a look at the map of the Tambookie or nort-eastern frontier in circa 1845. The focus switches to the colonial attempts to organize and order the Eastern Frontier of the Cape Province, an area of South Africa much
If you have ever visited Pilgrim’s Rest it is one of those places that stays with you and haunts your memory. It compares to Bendigo in Australia and Julian in California. It is still a tourist attraction of note in Mpumalanga and a village of romance and imagination. It is described in the online tourist blurb as a “a small town with a very colourful and exciting history”. The main street of this early mining settlement lives on its heritage and here you expect to find at least six bars to quench the thirst of the gold panner.
Constance Stuart Larrabee was a 20th century photographer of distinction but is not well known in the 21st century. This book sets out to change perceptions. Constance was born in Cornwall in 1914 and following her parents' emigration to Grootfontein in the then Northern Transvaal, grew up in South Africa. She always wanted to be a photographer and for her this was “the one road to take“, but in fact her life took her down quite a few roads. Photography mattered.
Michael Walker first published his Early Architects of Cape Town in 2012. The book has been a success and a new edition has recently been published. I reviewed the first edition in 2015 (click here to read).
I always welcome books about books and book people. If people are interested in the making of a book they are extending their grasp and reach of all things bookish and book collectable. I was delighted to acquire this new book on a recent visit to Cape Town and found myself reading it from cover to cover in a couple of hours (it is just over 100 pages).
Heather Mason is an American who lives in Johannesburg, has embraced the city and blogs about her experiences on a website called 2Summers. She came to South Africa in 2010 and embraced a life as a migrant bohemian freelancer. She called her blog 2Summers as she experienced two summers in a row.
I fell upon this memoir by chance. It is old, out of date and a book passing into history as it was published over half a century ago (published by Howard Timmins in 1965). Jack Stodel does not feature in the standard encyclopedias or biographical dictionaries. Why bother with such a book? Memoirs give us a flavour and taste of the lives of a bygone generation and recall amusing experiences and anecdotes. We learn about the lives of others, how they lived and what the issues of the day were. Memoirs become building blocks in the writing of history.
This book is a superb scholarly study of a little known aspect of the Mohandas Gandhi story in South Africa. It tackles the subject of running a printing press and spreading the message of Satyagraha or passive resistance through the medium of the printed word. This was the acorn that yielded a giant oak and bore fruit albeit with tragic costs and consequences with the achievement of Indian independence in 1947.
Johannesburg was always a much photographed place from its earliest days. It was a city that grew up with photographers and their cameras. As a town of migrants and immigrants, people wanted to send postcards and photographic souvenirs back home.
Review of Barberton Makhonjwa Geotrail - Geosites and Viewpoints. First question – what is a geotrail? Let this book introduce you to the concept and the place. A geotrail is a route that takes us on a journey through remote time and space to geologically important sites and viewpoints (in this case in the Makhonjwa mountains). This is time travel at its best. Geology becomes the tool and the source of organized knowledge to find evidence of the earliest life forms on earth - a band of single cell organisms visible to the naked eye.
Phansi Art Museum is a Durban ubuntuArt Museum which collects to celebrate African art and beauty, as they describe on their website. Phansi holds a fine collection of art, crafts and artefacts (beadwork, traditional medicine containers, dolls, traditional domestic utensils etc.). They also have a publications department and are bringing out books and catalogues that immediately proclaim collectability.
Eric Rosenthal (1905-1983) was a prolific writer. The bibliography of his books in his Wikipedia entry runs to 50 books. I have collected most of them. He wrote non-fiction history about South Africa. His style was light and entertaining. He was a raconteur. He captured yarns and stories about the past and he loved drawing out the characters of early Johannesburg. Rosenthal was trained as a lawyer but chose journalism and writing for a living. His books were popular in their day with large print runs and are therefore readily available today.
Here is one of those books to look out for and add to one’s Africana collection. It was published in 1988 by AD. Donker, the Dutch South African publisher who produced quality books that fell into the Africana category.
Secret Johannesburg is a small book with a big punch. The intriguing title lures the city enthusiast to acquire it, pop it in a pocket or a handbag and take it on a journey to discover Joburg's little known treasures. Complete with nifty maps, this guidebook with a difference unearths Johannesburg’s amazing hidden objects, spaces, places, artworks, geology, water features, trees and museums.
1889 must have been a good year for visiting South Africa. I recently found and wrote about Frederick Young’s Winter Tour of South Africa in that year (click here to read). Stanley Leighton was another English visitor to South Africa in 1889 and here is another invaluable source of impressions and vignettes of places visited by a traveller of a certain class. He did not have a political agenda nor was he pushing a particular viewpoint.
Some people are determined and fortunate enough to live two lives in one lifetime. Laurence Chait is one of this special breed. He has lived a life in medicine and a life in art. He is a well-known Johannesburg medical specialist with a distinguished and long medical career as practitioner and professor of Wits University. His specialization is plastic and reconstructive surgery. His particular expertise has been the treatment of children born with cleft lip and palate deformities; he has changed the lives of thousands of children.
Harold Napier Devitt (he wrote under the name of Napier Devitt) was born in England in 1871 and came to South Africa in 1889 on board the Royal Mail Ship, the Spartan. He tells us he was only 17 years old at the time of his arrival. He explains in the opening chapter of the first volume of his memoirs that he was one of 10 men in a party sponsored by Sir Frederic Young of the Colonial Institute and Sir Henry Pasteur, a City of London man. F C Selous the great African hunter was also on the voyage and thrilled the young Devitt with tales of the African veld.
The date of this book is unknown but the internal evidence pinpoints the volume to the years 1896 to 1899. The size is 25x30cm. The cover is an eye catching gold printing on pebbled dark maroon cloth, gilt edges, scuffing to edges, each page specially attached. The book contains laid down newspaper cuttings of Johannesburg life in the late 19th century. The author of these Weekly Star contributions was Johnstone Sheldon who wrote under the pseudonym The Vagrant.
This is another of those books that is now a classic of early 20th century South Africa. Its age and rarity pushes up the price of the original book on the antiquarian auctions and hence expect to pay well over $200 for a first edition. Alternatively you may wish to settle for a reproduction from Amazon priced from $13.57 to $45. Or if you are a fan of online reading, take advantage of the free download available via UCLA or the Guttenberg project.
I recently added a new title to my library, an old book with the quaint title of "A Winter Tour of South Africa". This is a first edition, published in London in 1890. It is an account of travels through South Africa by the distinguished writer and traveller, Fredrick Young.
Celebrating Bosman is one of those perennial favourites. Published in 2004, it is still in print and available at Wits Press. Patrick Mynhardt who brought the Bosman character, Oom Schalk Lourens, to life in his one man show that became a South African institution, selected and introduced his favourite Bosman stories in this easy to handle single volume. Mynhardt passed away some ten years ago but he has not been forgotten.
This book is part of the well established series “Wake Up, This is Joburg”. It is slender, slight and instantly collectable with the look and feel of a quality art book. The book is a combination of photographic essay and a journalist’s essay on Johannesburg as shopping mecca. It is all about the people. The author, Tanya Zack and the photographer, Mark Lewis walk the city’s streets to interview and pin down fleeting images of the shoppers of the city.
With the change in the office of the President from Jacob Zuma to Cyril Ramaphosa, the subject of what the state can and cannot do is topical. This book is a serious academic study written by scholars and activists of note who have thought hard, debated among themselves through many seminars and conferences and connected to the international agendas about global development. It is all part of a wider debate about where the world is going in the 21st century and how best for South Africa to arrive at a developed status destination.
The Second Anglo Boer War (1899 to 1902) was a disaster for both victor and vanquished. For the British it was an excessively costly colonial adventure and a complete miscalculation of likely duration. Both Afrikaners and African people lost more than they gained in defeat, occupation, starvation, destruction of farms, exile and imprisonment. The two Boer republics were lost and with it Afrikaner independence. The British taxpayer footed a very expensive escapade where generals still thought about fighting set piece battles on the veld.
As the 21st February 2018 marked the 101st anniversary of the sinking of the SS Mendi, I thought much about men at sea and the perils of travels by ship during war time. The First World War saw well over 140 ships lost at sea through U-boat action or sinking; there is a page on Wikipedia recording all such disasters where over 30 lives were lost.
Have you ever wondered about the distinction between an immigrant and a citizen? Many of us are immigrants to South Africa or if it was your parents or grandparents who came to South Africa from abroad, you could describe yourself as a first, second or even third generation South African. Depending on when and how your family came to South Africa, and the colour of your skin, it could have been a fairly painless process to transition from immigrant to citizenship status.
Here is my pick for the ideal late Christmas or new year present for the South African heritage enthusiast. Paul Duncan (writer and publisher) and Alain Proust (photographer) have done it again. Top marks to this well-known duo in heritage for producing another handsome book.
The first thing this book taught me was the meaning of Iziko (it means hearth in Xhosa). The Iziko organization (from its website) is a cluster of fourteen Cape museums covering natural history, social history and a number of art collections.
This week I thought I would write about a Durban book as I am about to spend a couple of days there shortly. I have always had a liking for Durban. For me it was an exciting and welcoming holiday town and as a teenager how I looked forward to a fortnight’s holiday at one of the beachfront hotels enjoying sunshine, sea, sand, sunburn and a South African Christmas.
Review of Illustrated Glossary of Southern African Architectural terms. English-isiZulu by Franco Frescura and Joyce Myeza. Published by UKZN Bilingual Glossary series. University of Kwa-Zulu–Natal Press, 2016. ISBN 978 1869143497.
In June, Dr Dean Allen author and lecturer, delivered a wonderful lecture to members of the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation. The venue was Northwards and the setting perfect for a lecture that matched the period of the room so perfectly. The theme was the subject of this book and the lecture immediately made me want to reach for the book and read more about Matjiesfontein and the man who made the village. Better still a trip to Matjiesfontein to capture the town that has been restored to its pristine condition and enjoy the Victorian era ambience.
This is a fascinating first person autobiographical account of one woman’s experiences and life in Southern Africa between the early 1880s and her final years in Johannesburg in the 1960s. Bertha Goudvis enjoyed a long and arduous life (1876 – 1966) during years of turbulent change and several wars. She was a first hand observer of the colonial world and lives on to comment on city life in modern Johannesburg.
Last week it was my pleasure and good fortune to attend the launch of this project, or perhaps I should say the mid-stage of this survey, endeavour and adventure. This is a book in the making. At this moment it is a report, perhaps somewhat dry and very much a presentation of data, but already it transcends the report phase and is on it its way to a landmark book. As a physical book there are only 50 numbered collectors’ hard copies (and each one will become instantly collectable).
I must start this review by declaring an interest... I am a committed, enthusiastic book collector. At times it is a disease but books are like bread and butter in my life. A book is an essential possession. When it comes to books I am a maximalist not a minimalist. At times they take over and one has to introduce discipline and order.
It was Herman Kallenbach’s good fortune and misfortune to have met and formed a rare, deep and enduring friendship with Mohandas Gandhi in South Africa in the years 1903 to 1914. The good fortune came because to have been a close friend and associate of the man who became Mahatma Gandhi earns Kallenbach a place in Indian and South African struggle history. The misfortune followed because Kallenbach became a tortured soul as an ascetic acolyte and struggled during his entire life to find an identity and meaning in life.
I have always been interested in polar exploration and history. I think the best book on early 20th century polar exploration is by Apsley Cherry Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World, which is where Angie Butler starts her book. Butler’s book also fits into a library on polar exploration. Published in 2011, it is a book about her seven year dogged quest to find Frank Wild, the polar explorer and Shackleton’s right hand man. Butler made it her mission to discover what happened to Wild in the last third of his life.
‘Then and Now’ books of photographs are becoming popular. I recently reviewed Vincent Van Graan’s Cape Town: Then and Now (click here to view). There is an appeal in matching old photographs that open a window on the past and then to return to the exact same spot to see the same place as it is today. What has changed and what has remained? It is a form of heritage treasure hunting.
The Johannesburg Heritage Foundation in conjunction with the Urania Village Community recently organized a walking tour of the Johannesburg Observatory and the surrounding streets of old Observatory. Observatory is a Johannesburg suburb dating back to the early 1900s, when part of the Bezuidenhoudt Farm was in part sold and in part given for the establishment of this scientific institution under the director R T A Innes. The Observatory is located at the highest point on the hill overlooking the suburb.
This is a novel and not a work of history but it draws on the styles and writings of other distinguished writers of and about Johannesburg who provided the inspiration and perhaps some foundation stones. One realizes that there is a community of people out there who love Johannesburg and write about the place. Many of us who live here are passionate about Johannesburg and feel that unique pulse of the city.
Cape Town has always been the most photogenic and dramatic of South African cities. A photograph is worth a thousand words and old photographs have a special historical and visual appeal. Van Graan in this book pays homage to past photographers of Cape Town while also showcasing his own work and that of Philip Massie. The contemporary aerial photographs are by The Aerial Perspective.
I discovered the existence of the Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum (located in Lwandle, the nearest township to Somerset West and Gordon's Bay) when enjoying a Christmas seaside vacation. Somerset West is worth exploring with many layers of historical experience from the great wine estates of Vergelegen and Lourensford to the remnants of industrial archaeology to be seen at the old Somerset West African Explosives and Chemical Industries estate, from the scenic drive through Gordon's Bay to the unusual workers museum at Lwandle which is the subject of this book.
Reviews of two Denis Godfrey books. First up The Enchanted Door published in 1963 followed by Antiques and Bygones: Notes for South African collectors released in 1967. Both books were published by Howard Timmins.
Review of John Maud's City Government: The Johannesburg Experiment published by Oxford University Press in 1938.
Review of Apennine War Diary: An Artist’s sketch book 1944-1945 by Walter Hain. The foreword is by Matthew Ward. Published by Bretwalda Books Ltd, 2015
This is a magnificently produced book and shows off Fourthwall production book art skills. My copy is only the standard edition yet the soft cover A4 size volume comes in a fiery red box.
This small volume (published in 1956) was a record of the look and feel of the City of Johannesburg in the 1950s. There are more than 60 marvellous black and white photographs of Johannesburg sights, scenes and people. Joburg was still dominated by mine activities in the fifties and the presence of the familiar fine sand mine dumps was a dominant feature on the horizon.
In November 1972 the new Carlton Hotel, fronting Main Street in Johannesburg opened. Guests were presented with a copy of the limited edition of this nostalgic handsome book, Meet Me at the Carlton, which told the story of the old Carlton Hotel of Johannesburg. This commemorative book was commissioned by the Carlton Centre. 500 numbered limited edition copies were printed, signed by the author, Eric Rosenthal for the opening celebration.
Johannesburg Pioneer Journals 1888-1909 edited by Maryna Fraser, published by the Van Riebeeck Society Cape Town 1985, Second Series no 16. This is an elegant well presented volume and an excellent item of Johannesburg history.
Diepsloot is a well written and researched account of a specific burgeoning settlement on the outskirts of Johannesburg. It is part of the post apartheid world of migrancy to the city. Harber has been called “the slayer of stereotypes” and indeed he is. The study is about people coming from somewhere else, trying to find a space to call home, to start a life in the city and find a job. The book reveals the problems and challenges of overcrowded formal and informal living with minimal services. Diepsloot is perhaps home to 200 000 people.
This is a book of photographs of old inner city Johannesburg, of its buildings, cityscapes, street views and public art. It is a very beautiful book and it slips easily and rather well into the library of books on the changing faces of Johannesburg. At least 20 companies or institutes have contributed funds for its publication. The photographer is Patrick de Mervelec, who teamed up with the architectural historian, Clive Chipkin who has written the all too brief captions for the photographs.
This is one of those literal doorstoppers of a book. It is an immensely thick, dense, daunting and difficult to read tome. The scope of this book is vast and totally pretentious. The eye was on the detail and seemingly, because it was the work of a committee, no civic worthy or fact of civic worth could be omitted. Some 45 years after publication it is incredibly dated. The big themes and what is unique about this city in its short 80 year history is either lost in the plethora of facts or not there at all.
I had not come across this book previously and found that it is a rare volume, as it was produced for family consumption and to commemorate the life of a remarkable South African early business entrepreneur Joffe Marks who established Premier Milling. As Marks died in 1951 aged 89, a book appearing some 50 years after his death is almost half a century too late.
I first encountered the work of Nic Coetzer when searching for information about the South African presence at the series of Empire exhibitions held in Britain before the Second World War. I was intrigued by his analysis as to why the South African pavilion, for example at the Wembley Empire Exhibition of 1924/25 and again the Glasgow exhibition of 1938 at Bellahouston Park, should have been designed in Cape Dutch architectural style.
Review of the South African Saturday Book. By Eric Rosenthal and Richard F Robinow. No date but published circa 1948 to 1950. Hutchinson. London, illustrated 224 pages.
What is the purpose of a film? At the simplest level, it is a form of storytelling in visual form, satisfying an age-old desire of humans to gather to listen to the elders of a tribe relate as oral tradition, fables and myths, stories and heroic deeds. Films can entertain, educate, offer fantasy, and as a visual medium can thrill, scare and transport the viewer to another world. Film is a medium of popular culture. Film is a means of learning about other societies mediated through the imagination of the director.
This is a newly published book and on the bookshelves of your favourite bookshop just before Christmas. It makes an ideal Christmas present. It is something of a stocking filler book which will delight and have wide appeal. Luke Alfred is South Africa’s own Bill Bryson. He writes with an easy flow of style. The book combines memoir, reminiscences, history, travel and reflection. There is a mix of past personal travel adventures and Sunday stepping out and about.
Eric Rosenthal was a prolific, popular writer and populist historian. His dates were 1905 to 1983 and during a long career as a journalist, researcher and historian he produced some fifty books. There is a useful bibliography of all his writing in the Wikipedia entry (click here to view) and a collection of 20th century Africana will probably contain a number of his works.
Hidden Cape Town by Paul Duncan and Alain Proust, Publisher: Struik Lifestyle. Illustrated, 1st edition published 2013 (240 pages & ISBN 978143170299) and 2nd edition published 2016 (232 pages & ISBN 9791432307936).
Gordonia is a remote, frontier part of South Africa, located in the Northern Cape Province. It is a dry, mainly barren, marginal land with a small linguistically and culturally mixed population. Along the Orange River the land is fertile because it is irrigated. It was an area settled by the Basters (in the late 19th century but there are also Xhosa speakers and descendants of other Khoisan people). Frontiers people are a breed of their own, self-reliant, tough, hardy and poor.
Homeless Wanderers Movement mental Illness in the Cape Colony in the Nineteenth Century by Sally Swartz. Published by UCT press, 2015, Paperback, 224 pages, illustrated. Reviewed in 2015.
Married to Medicine Dr Mary Gordon Pioneer Woman Physician and Humanist by Jack Metz and Gordon Metz, published by the Adler Museum of Medicine, Faculty of Health Science, University of the Witwatersrand. 2016, 224 pages. ISBN 9780629690232
Royal Automobile Club of South Africa, Route Book, 7th edition, 1930 hard cover, 260 pages plus adverts.
Jill Weintroub is a Research Fellow at the Rock Art Research Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand. In 2006 she completed a M Phil at the University of Cape Town on the Bleek Lloyd archival Collection. It is this collection of notebooks and associated papers collected in the 1870s and beyond that in 1997 were recognized by UNESCO in their Memory of the World Register.
In October 2016 Johannesburg celebrates its 130th birthday. From those early beginnings as a mining camp on the veld here is a city in its second century sufficiently mature to realize that there are some buildings worth celebrating and preserving; the camp grew to a town, then a city and is now a sprawling metropolis. It was a city with little appreciation of its past and property developers then and now seldom show respect for the old and out of date.
Review of The Reb and the Rebel Jewish Narratives in South Africa 1892-1913. Edited by Carmel Schrire and Gwynne Schrire. Published by UCT Press and the Kaplan Centre of Jewish Studies and Research, University of Cape Town. 2016. Paperback, illustrated. 258 pages. ISBN no. 9780799224931
Emily Hobhouse, Beloved Traitor, by Elsabe Brits, published by Tafelberg, 2016, 336 pages, illustrated.
Review of The Johannesburg Gas Works, by Monika Lauferts le Roux and Judith Mavunganidze, published by Fourthwall Books, 2015, 94 pages, illustrated.
Burgess, John (Compiler): The Road Through the Grove – Friendship and adventure along Louis Botha Avenue, Johannesburg in the 1950s, '60s and ‘70s. (Redsky publishing, 2016. illustrated, 284 full colour pages, 4 page fold out map by Trevor Romain)
Emily Hobhouse died in 1926 in London. The Manchester Guardian carried a substantial obituary which featured her humanitarian work in South Africa during and after the Anglo-Boer War. However, her obituary in The Times (of London) saw her as a propagandist and agitator of note and attributed the woes of the Boers in the concentration camps between 1900 and 1902 to the ignorance of the Boers themselves. This contrast in obituaries highlights the controversy that surrounded Emily Hobhouse in death as much as in life.