Биография Ингрид Йонкер (на английском языке)

Ingrid Jonker (1933 – 1965)
Ингрид Йокер

Ingrid Jonker, the daughter of Abraham Jonker and Beatrice Cilliers, was born on a farm near Kimberley on 19 September 1933. Her father and mother had separated prior to her birth and her grandparents, with whom she, her elder sister, Anna, and mother were living, decided to move to a farm near Cape Town. Five years after the relocation her grandfather passed away, leaving the four women to a rootless existence moving from room to room in Cape Town. At times they were subjected to severe poverty, as Beatrice could not find work.

In 1943 Ingrid’;s mother passed away and the two sisters were sent to school in Cape Town. Eventually they moved to their father’;s home, where he had built a new life with his third wife and their children. Ingrid and Anna were treated as outsiders and the rift that developed between Ingrid and her father during this period threw a shadow over the rest of her life. Ingrid started writing poetry at the age of six and her early works reflect a lyrical style reminiscing on her childhood. She produced her first collection of poems, called Na die Somer (After the Summer), at the age of sixteen and although her work interested publishers she was advised to wait before going into print. Eventually, after many delays, her first book of poems, called Onvlugting (Escape), was published in 1956.

Ingrid married Pieter Venter and in 1957 her daughter, Simone, was born. The young marriage couldn’;t withstand a move to Johannesburg and Ingrid moved back to Cape Town where she intended to support herself and her daughter. During this period Abraham Jonker, a writer, editor and Member of Parliament for the National Party, was appointed chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee charged with the introduction of a law to impose censorship on publications and entertainments. Ingrid was adamantly opposed to this and their political differences became public.

In 1963 a new collection of Ingrid’;s poems were published after delays caused by the fears and conservative approach of the publishers to whom the manuscript had been submitted. Rook en Oker (Smoke and Ochre) was received with great acclaim by fellow Afrikaans and English writers, poets and critics, but was given a cool reception by more conventional audiences. Her poetry was translated from Afrikaans to English, German, French, Hindi and Zulu and broadcast throughout Europe and South Africa.

Rook en Oker was awarded a �1000 literary prize, which enabled Jonker to travel through Europe where she visited England, Holland, France, Spain and Portugal. Her tour was cut short when she fell ill and returned to Cape Town, where she started writing with new vigour, planning to publish a collection of poems in 1965. Selections from these manuscripts were published posthumously in the form of Kantelson (Setting Sun) after Ingrid Jonker committed suicide by drowning on the night of 19 July 1965 at Green Point in Cape Town.

Jonker also wrote a one-act play called ‘;n Seun na my Hart (A Son after my Heart) following a mother’;s illusions about her defective son, and several short stories including Die Bok (The Goat), which was translated and published in the London Magazine. On 24 May 1994, in his State of the Nation Address to Parliament in Cape Town, President Nelson Mandela read one of Ingrid Jonker’;s poems:


Ontvlugting, Culemborg, Cape Town, 1956
Rook en Oker, Afrikaanse Pers, Johannesburg, 1963
Kantelson, Afrikaanse Pers, Johannesburg, 1966
‘n Seun na my hart; ‘n dram in een bedryf, Johannesburg, 1968, Dalro
Versamelde Werke, Perskor,  Johannesburg, 1975
Collected Works, Translated by Jack Cope & William Plomer, Human & Rousseau, 2001
Black Butterflies, Translated by Antjie Krog & André Brink, Human & Rousseau, 2007