Gray, Stephen (1941–) By MacKenzie, Craig
Novelist, poet, dramatist, and critic Stephen Gray was born in Cape Town and educated at the universities of Cape Town, Cambridge, and Iowa, where he was a member of the Iowa Writers Workshop. He edited Granta while at Cambridge and taught in France for some years before taking up a position at the Rand Afrikaans University (now the University of Johannesburg) in 1969, where he taught for some 20 years and became Professor of English. He took early retirement in 1991 and has since then worked as a freelance writer. The author of several works of poetry, drama, and fiction, Gray is also South Africa’s foremost anthologist and literary historiographer.
Stephen Gray’s early novels are the satirical Local Colour (1975) and Invisible People (1977), and the historical Caltrop’s Desire (1980). His fascination with history is also reflected in John Ross: The True Story (1987), a fictionalized treatment of the life of Charles Maclean (‘John Ross’), a ship’s boy who survived a shipwreck off the Natal coast in 1825 and spent several years at the court of King Shaka. Later novels include Time of Our Darkness (1988), Born of Man (1989), and the semi-autobiographical War Child (1991). His autobiography, Accident of Birth, appeared in 1993.