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Frederick Guy Butler

also known as Guy Butler

writer , academic , poet

Guy Butler was a South African poet and writer.

Background

Frederick Guy Butler was born on January 21, 1918, in Cradock, Cape Province, South Africa.

Education

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.

Career

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.

Achievements

  • 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.

Membership

  • English Academy South Africa (honorary life president)

  • Shakespeare Society Southern Africa (national president 1985).

Interests

  • Sport & Clubs

    Golf

Connections

In 1940 he married Jean Murray Satchwell. They gave birth to three sons, one daughter.

father:
Ernest

mother:
Alice

Sister:
Dorothy Eyre Murray (née Butler) - poet