Stephen Gray

Stephen Gray is one of South Africa’s most prolific authors. He has established a reputation as a leading academic and critic, with a substantial publication record in a wide range of genres including novels, poetry, biography, essays and a play. In his editorial capacity he has overseen a prodigious output of South African anthologies.

Born in Cape Town in 1941, he matriculated from St. Andrew’s College in Grahamstown and went on to read for a BA degree from the University of Cape Town, followed by an MA from Cambridge University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa. He was also awarded a D. Litt and D. Phil. by the Rand Afrikaans University.

Stephen Gray has been a writer-in-residence at the University of Queensland, Australia, and has held fellowships at the Rockefeller Bellagio Centre in Italy, at the Hawthornden Foundation near Edinburgh, at the Eastern Frontier Educational Foundation in Maine, and at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Centre of the University of Texas at Austin, where his own papers are part of their South African literature holdings.

In 1993 he received the English Academy’s Gold Medal and in 2007 he was honoured by the Department of Arts and Culture with a South African Literary Award for Lifetime Achievement, in particular for “his dedication to African and world poetry and literary arts”.

From 1997 to 2006 he was one of the editors of the fourteen-volume Anniversary Edition of the works of Herman Charles Bosman, published by Human & Rousseau, and he published biographies of Bosman and of Beatrice Hastings.



  • Local Colour, Ravan Press, Johannesburg, 1975
  • Visible People, David Philip, Cape Town & Collings, London, 1977
  • Caltrop’s Desire, David Philip, Cape Town, & Collings, London, 1980
  • John Ross: The True Story, Penguin, Johannesburg, 1987
  • Time of Our Darkness, Muller, Johannesburg & London, 1988
  • Born of Man, Justified Press, Johannesburg & London, GMP, 1989
  • War Child, Justified Press, Johannesburg, 1991; Serif, London, 1993
  • Drakenstein, Justified Press, Johannesburg, 1994


  • Schreiner: A One-Woman Play, Philip, Cape Town, 1983


  • It’s About Time, Philip, Cape Town, 1974
  • The Assassination of Shaka, with woodcuts by Cecil Skotnes, McGraw-Hill, Johannesburg, 1974
  • Hottentot Venus and Other Poems, Philip, Cape Town & Collings, London, 1979
  • Season of Violence, Dangaroo Press, Aarhus, 1992
  • Selected Poems, 1960-92, David Philip, Cape Town, 1994
  • Gabriel’s Exhibition: New Poems, MayibuyeBooks-UWC, Bellville, 1998
  • Shelley Cinema and Other Poems, Protea Book House, Pretoria, 2006
  • Rough Passage, Missing Ink, Cape Town 2014

 Edited Anthologies

  • Writers’ Territory, Longman Southern Africa, Cape Town, 1973
  • Mhudi, by Solomon T. Plaatje, Heinemann, London, 1978
  • Theatre One: New South African Drama, AD Donker, Johannesburg, 1978
  • Modern South African Stories, AD Donker, Johannesburg, 1980
  • Stormwrack, by C. Louis Leipoldt, Philip, Cape Town, 1980
  • Turbott Wolfe, by William Plomer, AD Donker, Johannesburg, 1980
  • Theatre Two: New South African Drama, AD Donker, Johannesburg, 1981
  • Athol Fugard, McGraw-Hill, Johannesburg, 1982
  • Modern South African Poetry, AD Donker, Johannesburg, 1984
  • Modern Stage Directions: A Collection of Short Dramatic Scripts, Maskew Miller Longman, Cape Town, 1984, (edited with David Schalkwyk)
  • Three Plays, by Stephen Black, AD Donker, Johannesburg, 1984
  • The Penguin Book of Southern African Stories, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1985
  • Selected Poems, by William Plomer, AD Donker, Johannesburg, 1985
  • Bosman’s Johannesburg, Human and Rousseau, Cape Town, 1986
  • Herman Charles Bosman, McGraw-Hill, Johannesburg, 1986
  • Market Plays, AD Donker, Johannesburg, 1986
  • The Penguin Book of Southern African Verse, Penguin, London, 1989
  • My Children! My Africa! and Selected Shorter Plays, by Athol Fugard, Wits University Press, Johannesburg, 1990
  • The Natal Papers of “John Ross”, by Charles Rawden Maclean, University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg, 1992
  • South Africa Plays, Hern, London, 1993
  • Invitation to a Voyage: French Language Poetry of the Indian Ocean African Islands, Protea Book House, Pretoria, 2008

Essays and Miscellaneous

  • Willemsdorp, by Herman Charles Bosman, Human & Rousseau, Cape Town, 1998
  • Southern African Literature: An Introduction, David Philip, Cape Town, & Collings, London & Barnes and Noble, New York, 1979
  • Douglas Blackburn, Twayne, Boston, 1984
  • Human Interest and Other Pieces, Justified Press, Johannesburg, 1993
  • Accident of Birth, COSAW, Johannesburg, 1993
  • Life Sentence: A Biography of Herman Charles Bosman, Human & Rousseau, Cape Town, 2005
  • Indaba: Interviews with African Writers, Protea Book House, Pretoria, 2005
  • My Serial Killer and Other Stories, Jacana, Johannesburg, 2005
  • Remembering Bosman, Penguin, Johannesburg, 2008

Biographical info courtesy of Lisel Jobson