William Plomer Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Electric Delights, William Plomer’s posthumously published 1978 collection of “scattered pieces,” reveals the breadth of the author’s interests. During his long career he published many volumes of poetry and many novels, as well as biographies and autobiographies. He also wrote librettos for operas and cantatas composed by the prominent British composer Benjamin Britten.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

William Plomer received the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 1963 and was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1968. He was corecipient with Alan Aldridge of the Whitbread Literary Award for best children’s book (The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast) in 1973.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Allen, Walter. The Modern Novel in Britain and the United States. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1964. Professor Allen includes Plomer in this discussion of the most important modern fiction writers, hailing him as the ancestor of South African fiction. Allen states that Plomer’s theme “has always been that of the Displaced Person in the larger and literal sense of the phrase.”

Doyle, John Robert, Jr. William Plomer. New York: Twayne, 1969. Part of the distinguished Twayne World Authors Series, this is one of the best studies of William Plomer available. Doyle, an authority on Plomer’s writings, taught at many South African universities and published essays in a number of South African periodicals. Chapter 2 describes and analyzes Plomer’s short stories in depth. Contains a chronology, copious reference notes, a bibliography, and an index.

Spender, Stephen. “A Singular Man.” New Statesman 86 (November 9, 1973): 690. Spender, a leading English poet and influential literary figure, published this tribute shortly after his friend Plomer’s death. Spender writes: “All his qualities were wind-blown, sun-saturated, sparkling, and in his writing the language shines and curls like waves animated by a strong breeze on a clear day.”

Tucker, Martin. Africa in Modern Literature: A Survey of Contemporary Writing in English. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1967. This interesting and authoritative discussion of all modern literature about the African continent contains many pages about Plomer in various contexts. Tucker hails him as the first white South African writer to treat miscegenation and interracial fraternization from the viewpoint of social and political protest rather than as something forbidden and shameful.