Cradock’s literary idyll calls
Rub shoulders with writers such as Etienne van Heerden and Margie Orford at this year’s festival in this Eastern Cape town
IN THE early morning light of spring, the row of Tuishuise in Cradock are particularly evocative. One of these is named after famed writer Etienne van Heerden.
This was the cottage in which I stayed for a couple of days, soaking up the atmosphere, enjoying the blossoms on the pear tree outside the house. It does not get more peaceful than this.
Come the Schreiner: Karoo Writers Festival, though, and the town positively fizzes. From far and wide, lovers of literature descend on the town. The fourth such festival takes place this year between August 9-11.
Brian Wilmot, organising committee member and curator of the Olive Schreiner Museum in the town, said the festival promises a mix of surprises, excursions, new voices and encounters with great writers.
There will be a chance to socialise with the likes of Etienne van Heerden, Margie Orford and Rachel Holmes during talks, readings, leisurely meals and fireside chats.
Van Heerden was born on the farm Doornbosch, near Cradock.
In Love’s Place, the English translation of his In Stede van die Liefde, will be launched during the festival.
Orford will have a fifth “Dr Clare Hart” thriller out around the time of the festival. Her courageous heroine is an investigative journalist-turned-profiler ready to face any challenge, but also enjoys escaping to places such as the Karoo.
According to Lisa Antrobus-Ker, manager of The Tuishuise, Holmes helped run the London Book Fair for four years and spent time in Cradock researching Schreiner for a book on Eleanor Marx (daughter of the famous Karl).
Lisa, who is also involved in the tourism industry for the area, clearly loves her town and bubbles with enthusiasm when she chats about the festival.
“Rachel Holmes will talk on the relationship between Olive and Eleanor – two powerful educated women; both highly literate, both radical reformers,” she said.
Barbara Mutch’s Cradock family saga, The Housemaid’s Daughter, published in the UK last year, has become a runaway international success. Her talk will be followed by a walking tour which includes several of the places mentioned in the book; and will end in the Dutch Reformed Church where Dominee Attie van Wyk will play the Chopin prelude.
Professor Paul Walters, who has helped generations of Rhodes English students find their literary voice, and who chairs the organising committee, will referee an open microphone session, in which each participant gets three minutes to read or recite his or her own work.
Published writers such as
LANDMARK: The fine Dutch Reformed Church in Cradock.
REMEMBER THEM: A monument to the Cradock Four.
PEARTICULARLY LOVELY: The Tuishuise, and pear tree, at dawn.
STILLNESS: A beautiful old church.
SEE THE SIGHTS: Join author Barbara Mutch for a talk and walking tour of places mentioned in her book.