Beyond Gold and Diamonds demonstrates the importance of southern Africa to British literature from the 1880s to the 1920s, from the rise of the systematic exploitation of the region's mineral wealth to the aftermath of World War I. It focuses on fiction by the colonial-born Olive Schreiner, southern Africa's first literary celebrity, as well as by H. Rider Haggard, Gertrude Page, and John Buchan, its most influential authorial informants, British authors who spent significant time in the region and wrote about it as insiders. Tracing the ways in which generic innovation enabled these writers to negotiate cultural and political concerns through a uniquely British South African lens, Melissa Free argues that British South African literature constitutes a distinct field, one that overlaps with but also exists apart from both a national South African literary tradition and a tradition of South African literature in English. The various genres that British South African novelists introduced--the New Woman novel, the female colonial romance, the Rhodesian settler romance, and the modern spy thriller--anticipated metropolitan literary developments while consolidating Britain's sense of its own dominion in a time of increasing opposition.
About the Author
Melissa Free is Assistant Professor of English at Arizona State University.