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Author Focus

C.J. Langenhoven
Biographical info

Cornelis Jacob Langenhoven was born at Hoeko, near Ladismith in the Western Cape, on August 12, 1873.

In 1895 he completed a BA degree and in 1899 an LLB Degree at the Victoria College in Stellenbosch (later to become the University of Stellenbosch). Shortly after, he started a law practice in Oudtshoorn.

In 1912, he became the editor of the local newspaper, Het Zuid-Westen. After this, he became involved in politics and in 1914 he was elected to the Cape Provincial Council. In 1920 he was elected as the member of the Volksraad for Oudtshoorn.

For more than 10 years he was the pen behind the editorial, “Aan stille waters”, which appeared in Die Burger under the name “Sagmoedige Neelsie”.

His first publication, Stukkies en brokkies, saw the light in 1911. After that, various books such as Sonde met die bure, Loeloeraai, Brolloks en Bittergal and Donker spore were published. The latter, which was published in 1926, is considered the first murder mystery novel in Afrikaans.

C.J. Langenhoven died on July 15, 1932 in his home Arbeidsgenot in Oudtshoorn. He is still famous today for his quips; his sayings are still popular as quotes.

Langenhoven’s Versamelde werke first appeared in 14 volumes, but later (1949) it was published as 16 volumes.

Did you know?

· In 1918 Langenhoven wrote the poem “Die stem van Suid-Afrika” (“The Voice of South Africa”). In 1957 it was declared South Africa’s national anthem.
· In 1927 he was awarded the Hertzog Prize for prose for his book Skaduwees van Nasaret, but he refused to accept the award. Apparently he didn’t like the thought of sharing it with Jochem van Bruggen and Sangiro. He returned the 25 pounds in prize money to the Academy.
· After the death of his wife, Vroutjie (as he called her), their home, Arbeidsgenot, was officially declared a museum and opened to the public in April 1955. It has been a national heritage site since 1987.
· Langenhoven owned an imaginary elephant, Herrie, who appeared in many of his stories. In 1929, Langenhoven carved Herrie’s name on a rock in Meiringspoort. This rock has also been a national heritage site since 1971.

Author bookshelf

Spreuke van Langenhoven, Tafelberg (2011)
Brolloks en Bittergal, Human & Rousseau (2008)
Die beste spookstories van C.J. Langenhoven, Tafelberg (2000)


Hertzog Prize for prose (1927) – Skaduwees van Nasaret
Honorary doctorate from the University of Stellenbosch (1931)

List of titles

1911 Stukkies en brokkies
1913 Ons weg deur die wêreld Deel I
1921 Eerste skoffies op die pad van Suid-Afrika
1921 Sonde met die bure (novel)
1922 Doppers en Filistyne (novel)
1922 Ons weg deur die wêreld Deel II
1923 Ons weg deur die wêreld Deel III
1923 Loeloeraai (science fiction)
1924 Die lig van verre dae (adventure novel)
1924 Geeste op aarde (ghost stories)
1925 Herrie op die óú treinspóór (novel)
1926 Donker spore (detective novel)
1927 Skaduwees van Nasaret
1930 Die wandelende geraamte (detective stories)
1932 U Dienswillige Dienaar (autobiography)

1930 Aan stille waters I
1941 Aan stille waters II

1909 Die familiesaak and Die troubelofte
1913 Die Hoop van Suid-Afrika
1919 Die onmoontlike tweeling
1918 Die Vrou van Suid-Afrika
1925 Die laaste van die takhare
1927 Die kinderparlement

Children’s books
1925 Brolloks en Bittergal
1926 Die Krismiskinders
1926 Mof en sy mense

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