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Friday, October 7, 2011


Launched a few months ago, Remembering Roy Campbell: The Memoirs of his Daughters Anna and Tess is edited by Judith Lutge Coullie, Professor of English Literature at UKZN.

Never swimming in the shallow end, the Campbell family experienced first-hand the aesthetic, political and social upheavals of the twentieth century.

Teresa Campbell was born in 1922 in Wales, in a drafty, dilapidated cottage-cum-stable. She was the first-born child of the handsome young South African poet and writer, Roy Campbell (1901-1957), and his strikingly beautiful English wife, Mary Garman (1898-1979).

The birthplace of her sister, Anna, could not have been more different: she was born at Sezela on the sub-tropical Natal South Coast in 1926. In their frank and moving memoirs, published together in one volume, Anna and Tess recall the extraordinary, and often very difficult, lives they shared with their exceptional parents. Their memoirs offer an intimate and sometimes raw glimpse into their lives. Tess and Anna do not shy away from the controversies that dogged their parents: Roy’s virulent attack on the colonial mentality in Durban in the 1920s; Mary’s affair with Vita Sackville-West; Roy’s drinking; their support for Franco in the Spanish Civil War and subsequent work for the Allied War Effort….

Nor do Tess and Anna evade the sorrows that tainted their own lives; Tess confides in readers, telling about the eating disorder and depression that almost cost her her life, and Anna alludes to the numerous breakdowns she suffered. Since their very accomplished father, Roy Campbell, selectively evaded mention of much of his private life and embellished on other aspects in his own autobiographies, in Remembering Roy Campbell his daughters allow readers to get behind their father’s bragging and bombast to see the gifted yet troubled man who put South African poetry on the global stage for the first time.

Remembering Roy Campbell retails at R220. More information from Adams Booksellers on 031 319 4350.