Athol Fugard Biography

Athol Fugard Biography

Athol Fugard—often called the "conscience of his country"—remains a controversial playwright in South Africa and throughout the world. An Afrikaner who chooses to write in English to reach as broad an audience as possible, Fugard began composing plays as a way of expressing his anger at apartheid. His criticism of the South African government’s racial policies has made him many enemies, so he began producing his work and (for a time) living in other countries. His plays are often held in small venues for the working classes—people who quite literally become part of the world of the play as they react to situations very similar to those in their own lives. Uncompromising and courageous, Fugard's work continues to be popular today.

Facts and Trivia

  • Fugard’s passport was revoked for several years because of his play The Blood Knot, which dissects the hypocrisy behind South Africa’s racial laws. He was further punished in 1962 after supporting a boycott against segregated theater audiences.
  • Fugard fought injustice on all sides. His play My Children! My Africa! attacked the African National Congress (ANC), an antiapartheid organization, for boycotting African schools. He feared that the children would have to suffer for the ANC’s political stance.
  • Fugard studied philosophy at the University of Capetown from 1950 to 1953, but he dropped out to hitchhike around Africa. He also worked on a merchant ship for two years before he found his calling as a writer.
  • Fugard’s first novel, Tsotsi, was made into a movie in 2006, and it won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
  • Fugard has a unique writing process and says, “Word processors, typewriters and ballpoints don’t work for me. I’m a sensualist writer who needs a fountain pen and paper.”
Additional Content
  • Biography (20th-Century Biographies)
  • Biography (Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)
  • Biography (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)
  • Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)
  • Biography
  • Biography

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