Van der Post, Laurens (1906-1996) By Ullyatt, Tony
Laurens van der Post was born on December 13, 1906 in the village of Phillipolis, in what was then the Orange River Colony. He was the thirteenth of the family’s fifteen children and the fifth son. His father, Christiaan, who came from Dutch stock, was a lawyer and politician who had fought against the British during the Second Anglo-Boer War. Van der Post’s mother, Lammie, was of German origin. Growing up on the farm, van der Post came into contact with the black people and the wilderness, two major influences on his life and his writing. Van der Post went to school in Grey College in Bloemfontein, where he was exposed to a line of political thinking embodying a racial philosophy entirely contrary to his own experiences of the indigenous peoples who were to play such a significant role in his adult life. In 1925, he became a junior reporter for the Natal Advertiser newspaper in Durban. In 1926, with William Plomer and Roy Campbell, he founded Voorslag, a journal lasting only three volumes. It was forced to close through lack of support for its radical opinions and its promotion of a more integrated South Africa.