Peter Abrahams

Literary Birthday – 3 March – Peter Abrahams

Peter Abrahams was born 3 March 1919 and died 18 January 2017.


  1. If a man loves a woman he loves her. That is all. There is no bad and there is no good. There is only love.
  2. You see, love is strong. Stronger than hate even. Love is the only thing that can kill hate, nothing else. You see, hate destroys and that’s why love is stronger. It builds. There is hope for all the coloured people in this country while one white woman can love one coloured man. Love keeps one alive.
  3. I remember my mother and father merging into each other in my mind. Together, they were my symbol of peace and laughter and security.
  4. With Shakespeare and poetry, a new world was born. New dreams, new desires, a self-consciousness was born. I desired to know to know myself in terms of the new standards set by these books.
  5. The only place where he was completely free was underground in the mines. There he was a master and knew his way. There he did not even fear his white man, for his white man depended on him. He was the boss boy. He gave the orders to the other mine boys. They would do for him what they would not do for his white man or any other white man.
  6. In the Caribbean islands, especially in Jamaica, have I found a country similar to South Africa plus the racial freedom I had sought so long.
  7. If I am ever liberated from this bondage of racialism, there are some things much more exciting to me, objectively, to write about. But this world has such a social orientation, and I am involved in this world and I can’t cut myself off. (via)
  8. I read every one of the books on the shelf marked American Negro literature. To (these) writings of men and women who lived a world away from me … I owe a great debt for crystallising my vague yearnings to write and for showing me the long dream was attainable. (via)

Peter Abrahams was a South African novelist, journalist, and political commentator. His novel, Mine Boy (1946), was the first to depict the dehumanising effect of racism felt by black people in South Africa. Read more here.

Photo taken by Carl Van Vechten, 1955

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 3rd March 2014