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Frederick Guy Butler (Guy Butler)

Guy Butler was a South African poet and writer.


  • He attended Rhodes University and received his MA in 1938. After marrying Jean Satchwell in 1940 he left South Africa to fight in the Second World War. After the war, he read English Literature at Brasenose College, Oxford University, graduating in 1947. He returned to South Africa, lecturing in English at the University of the Witwatersrand. In 1951, he returned to Rhodes University in Grahamstown to take up a post as Senior Lecturer, and a year later was made Professor and Head of English. He remained there until his retirement in 1987, when he was appointed Emeritus Professor and Honorary Research Fellow. He received honorary doctorates from the University of Natal, the University of the Witwatersrand and Rhodes University.


  • Butler promoted the culture of English-speaking South Africans, which led to the charge of separatism from some critics, although he argued for integration rather than exclusivity. He was influential in achieving the recognition of South African English Literature as an accepted discipline.

    In his poetry he strove for the synthesis of European and African elements into a single voice.

    Butler's childhood is depicted in his autobiography, "Karoo Morning" (1977).

    "Bursting World" (1983) continues with an account of his student years and his experiences during World War II, in North Africa and Italy.

    "Stranger to Europe" (1952), his first poetry collection, contains fine war poems.

    "Selected Poems" appeared in 1975, updated with additional poems in 1989.

    "Pilgrimage to Dias Cross" (1987) is a long meditation on racial conflict, incorporating representative voices from various groups, and ending with a prayer for unity.

    Butler's plays include "Richard Gush of Salem" (1982) and "Demea" (1990).

    "A Local Habitation" (1991) continues his autobiography up to 1990.

    A collection of academic writings, "Essays and Lectures: 1949-1991", was published in 1994.


  • Stranger to Europe
  • South of the Zambezi
  • Selected Poems
  • Songs and Ballads


Denomination: African Gospel


  • English Academy South Africa (honorary life president)

  • Shakespeare Society Southern Africa (national president 1985).



Sport & Clubs: Golf


  • father: Ernest
  • mother: Alice
  • Sister: Dorothy Eyre Murray (née Butler) - poet
Frederick Butler
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Born January 21, 1918
Died April 26, 2001
(aged 83)
  • 1938
    Rhodes University
  • 1939
    Rhodes University
  • 1994
    Rhodes University
  • 1947
    Oxford University
  • 1951
    Oxford University
  • 1970
    University Natal
  • 1984
    Witwatersrand University
  • 1989
    University South Africa
  • 1994
    Rhodes University
  • 1948 - 1950
    lecturer, English University Witwatersrand
  • 1951
    senior, lecturer Rhodes University
    Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa
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Julia Prokopenko last changed 28/05/2012 view changes
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