Cosmo Pieterse’s biography, fact, career, awards, net worth and life story

Intro South African writer
Is Critic
Literary critic
From South Africa
Type Literature
Gender male

Cosmo George Leipoldt Pieterse (born 1930, Windhoek, Namibia) is a South African playwright, actor, poet, literary critic and anthologist.

Education and career

Cosmo Pieterse went to the University of Cape Town and taught in Cape Town until leaving South Africa in 1965. He was banned under the Riotous Assemblies Act of 1962. He subsequently taught in London and at Ohio University in the United States: arriving at Ohio University in 1970, he became a tenured faculty member in 1976. However, after travelling to meet his London publisher in 1979 he was denied re-entry to the US on classified information, allegedly for being “a suspected communist”.

In London Pieterse worked for the BBC World Service at Bush House in the later 1960s and early ’70s. Also an occasional actor, he appeared in The Burning, a 1968 30-minute short drama film directed by Stephen Frears. As a poet, Pieterse has been characterised as producing work that is very “European in its tone, metaphors, and delivery”, as Laura Linda Holland writes: “Cosmo Pieterse’s poems, like those of Brutus, are heavily inundated with Western influences, concerns, and motifs while retaining a definite African bias….Cosmo Pieterse uses his love of words to create poetry of hope and renewal.”

Pieterse edited several anthologies of plays and poetry for the African Writers Series published by Heinemann.

Works edited

  • Ten One-act Plays. London: Heinemann Educational Books, African Writers Series 34, 1968.
  • (with Donald Munro) Protest & Conflict in African Literature, Heinemann Educational, 1969.
  • Seven South African Poets: Poems of Exile. African Writers Series 64. London: Heinemann Educational, 1971.
  • Short African Plays. London: Heinemann, African Writers Series 78, 1972.
  • Five African Plays. London: Heinemann, African Writers Series 114, 1972.
  • (with Dennis Duerden) African Writers Talking: a collection of radio interviews, Holmes & Meier, 1972.
  • (with Gwyneth Henderson) Nine African Plays for Radio. London: Heinemann, African Writers Series 114, 1973.
  • Echo and Choruses: “Ballad of the Cells”, and selected shorter poems, 1974.
  • (with George Hallett) Present Lives Future Becoming: South African Landscape in Words and Pictures. Guildford: Hickory Press Ltd, 1974.
  • (with Angus Calder and Jack Mapanje) Summer Fires: New Poetry of Africa – an anthology of entries from the BBC Arts and Africa Poetry Award. Heinemann Educational Books, 1983.
  • (with Amelia House) Nelson Mandelamandla. Three Continents Press, 1989.