Bessie Head

Bessie Head

Thunder Behind Her Ears - Her Life and Writings

Gillian Stead Eilersen


James Currey



Bessie Head's novels include Where Rain Clouds Gather and A Question of Power .
This biography details the life of Bessie Head - a life which echoes so many of the aspects of the distressing history of South Africa in the last half century. She was born in an asylum to a mother who was considered mad because her father was black. Despite the disadvantages of being both a person of mixed race and a woman, she made her way in South Africa as a journalist. Her exile in rural Botswana was in marked contrast to the intensely urban backgrounds of most other South African writers. Her fierce determination to take root was reflected in her first novel Where Rain Clouds Gather. But she was kept a refugee for 15 years before she was granted citizenship of Botswana. Her most frightening novel, A Question of Power vividly captures the shifting dislocations of schizophrenia.

South Africa: Witwatersrand University Press


January 1995
20 black and white illustrations
320 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9780852555354
Format: Paperback
James Currey
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No summary of the content can do justice to the emotional intensity of the biography which ... is invaluable and represents a long-awaited study of Bessie Head that manages to undo much of the enigma that has surrounded her and her ideas... - Kwame Dawes in AFRICAN AFFAIRS
The research is thorough and the events of Bessie Head's life, as well as her opinions, attitudes and writing are all sensibly and clearly presented. The details of a turbulent life are all judiciously and sympathetically handled; in the scrupulous handling of Bessie Head's friendships too there is a feeling of openness and understanding which is this biography's greatest strength. - Margaret Daymond, Professor of English, University of Natal