Bessie Head's Australian Interviews

Edited and Introduced by Dorothy Driver


  • Dorothy Driver



Bessie Head’s international reputation – as novelist, short-story writer, essayist and chronicler – brought her to Australia in 1984, primarily for Adelaide’s Writers’ Week but also to visit Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart. In Adelaide, in February, she was interviewed by Suzanne Hayes of the College of Technical and Further Education. The following month, in Launceston, she was interviewed by Andrew Peek of the Tasmanian College of Adult Education. Both interviews are re-printed here: first, Peek’s, minimally re-edited (the original audio recording appears not to be extant), and second, Hayes’, edited anew from its original recording. Over a third of a century has passed since then, but Head’s voice rings out to us with a lamentably contemporary relevance: ‘choked’, as she tells Hayes, in a white-dominated South Africa, where she lived for the first twenty-seven years of her life, and then alienated in Botswana as a refugee and as a female writer of ‘mixed race’, ‘deprived all round’.

Bessie Head