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

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - TRAVEL 2013 - MYR­TLE RYAN

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.

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