Nadine Gordimer is a South African writer who writes in English and Afrikaans. Her novel, “The Conservationist” was also made into a feature film. Gordimer published her first story when she was twenty-two and has since written more than twenty volumes of stories, novels, plays and nonfiction in addition to poetry. She won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1991.
In this article we will explore her life from a brief overview of her early life to an exploration of some selected works as well as covering other topics such as awards she has received etc.
About Nadine Gordimer
Gordimer’s mother, Bertha Goudsmit, was of Dutch Jewish descent and her father, Harold Loeb, was of Polish Jewish origin. Gordimer also stated that her grandfather Isaac Gordimer had been the town’s Marrano shochet.
Gordimer began writing at an early age. Her first publication was a poem when she was twelve. At the age of sixteen she had her first short story published in a magazine and at eighteen she published her first book which consisted mainly of poetry. It was not until 1946 when Gordimer wrote a novel that she achieved critical acclaim when The Lying Days won not only the Somerset Maugham Award but also the Guardian Fiction Prize.
Life of Nadine
Nadine Gordimer was born on 20 November 1923 in a small mining village called Springs, on the East Rand of South Africa. She was the second of three children. Born to parents of Jewish origin, Gordimer said that they were not religious but they would take her to the synagogue when she was young. In a 2007 interview with Haaretz she said that her Jewishness is an integral part of who she is today. She stated “I’m very much in touch with my particular story and my time and place, and while it’s true that it’s not necessarily relevant to others, I have no trouble identifying with others in their own particular settings.
Nadine went to the University of the Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Here she studied English and History. She completed her master’s degree in African languages and literatures. This was followed by a year in Germany, where she studied Afrikaans at the University of Cologne.
Personal life of Nadine
Gordimer has been married twice. She was first married in 1948 to Reinhold Cassirer, an artist. They had two sons and Gordimer took a job as a book reviewer for The Star. She divorced Cassirer in 1951 and two years later she married Reinhold’s friend, the writer Hugo Walker. They had one son together and remained married until Hugo’s death in 1974, aged only 41 years old.
Gordimer has been involved in many causes including fighting against apartheid and drawing attention to violence against women.
Gordimer began writing at an early age. At the age of 16 she had her first short story published in a magazine. She wrote five novels before her first publication in 1946 when she was only 23 years old. She was outstandingly successful with this novel called The Lying Days which won not only the Somerset Maugham Award but also the Guardian Fiction Prize. Gordimer continued to write prolifically and since 1976 has been a full-time writer. Early life
Gordimer was born in the East Rand, South Africa. This area is known for being a railway and coal mining industry suburb on the edge of Johannesburg. Her mother, Bertha Goudsmit, was of Dutch Jewish descent and her father Harold Loeb, was of Polish Jewish origin. Gordimer also stated that her grandfather Isaac Gordimer had been the town’s Marrano shochet.
She began writing at an early age which would later become a lifelong passion for her. Her first publication was when she was twelve years old when she wrote a poem in school.
Activism and professional life
Gordimer wrote her first story when she was 22 years old and released it in the form of a novel titled, “The Lying Days”. This novel would go on to win not only the Somerset Maugham Award but also the Guardian Fiction Prize. Her second publication “Face to Face” was published in 1952. Gordimer continued to write prolifically and since 1976 has been a full-time writer.
By 1963, Gordimer left South Africa for England. She accepted a position at the University of Sussex in Brighton where she remained for three years. In those three years she traveled extensively, visiting numerous countries including France, Italy and Greece. Gordimer moved back to South Africa in 1966, living in a suburb of Johannesburg with her husband, Hugo Walker.
Gordimer published her first and only autobiography in 1990 titled “Out of Africa”.
She was honored with the Nobel Prize for Literature which she shared with Jose Saramago, who is from Portugal. She became the first writer from Southern Africa and third woman writer to be so honored. Nadine Gordimer died on 13 July 2014 at the age of 90.
Awards and Hounors
Gordimer received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991. She was also awarded the Booker Prize for Fiction twice. The first time was in 1974 for her novel “The Conservationist” and the second was in 1982 when she won for “A Sport of Nature”. In 1987, Nadine was awarded the prestigious Prix Femina Etranger which is a French literary award given every year to an author who has written a work mainly published in France.
Nadine Gordimer wrote more than twenty volumes of stories, novels, plays and non-fiction in addition to poetry and has been very successful with her works over the years. Her writing combined with her activism, and support of causes has made her an important literary figure of the 20th century. She has played an integral part in many different movements through her work and will continue to be remembered for her artistry as well as her social and political consciousness.