Bessie Head: Thunder behind Her Ears : Her Life and Writing (used), by Gillian Stead Eilersen
Bessie Head's life echoes the themes of South African history in the last half-century. Her life was a traumatic one, and she drew heavily upon her own personal experiences for her novels. She was born in an asylum to a mother who was considered mad, because she became pregnant by a black man. She was sent to a foster family until she was 13, and then a mission school before training as a teacher. After four years of teaching, she left to work as a journalist for Drum magazine. Despite the disadvantages of being both a person of mixed race and a woman, she made her way in South Africa as a journalist. She later applied for another teaching post, in rural Botswana, where she took up permanent exile. Her life in rural Botswana was in marked contrast to the intensely urban backgrounds of most other South African writers. Botswana is the background for most of her short stories, and all three of her outstanding novels: Where Rain Clouds Gather (1969), Maru (1971), and A Question of Power.
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