26 October 1939
Karel Schoeman was born on 26 October 1939 in Trompsburg, Orange Free State. He matriculated from the HoÁƒÂƒÂ«r Jongenskool in Paarl in 1956, obtained a BA in languages at the University of the Freestate in 1959, and He went on to study at the Catholic Seminary in Pretoria. In 1961 he joined the order of Franciscans in Ireland and novitiated to become a priest, but was released from his vows. He returned to Bloemfontein where he obtained an Honours degree in library science. He then moved to the Amsterdam. where he worked as a librarian. He moved back to South Africa and worked at the South African Library in Cape Town from 1983. Schoeman is the author of 18 novels and numerous works of history, he is one of South Africa's most awarded and highly-regarded authors. He is perhaps most renown for his works of historical fiction. He has also translated several world literary classics into Afrikaans. Although he is renowned in South Africa, recognition outside of his native country is only slowly coming. This is no doubt due to the fact that he writes primarily in Afrikaans, although several of his non-fiction works are in English. Few of his novels have been translated into other languages In 1999 he was one of only two living South African writers to be honoured with a State President's Award by Nelson Mandela on the occasion of the latter's retirement. His numerous literary awards include: the Hertzog Prize in 1970, 1986 and 1995; the SAUK Prize for African TV dramas 1990; the Stals Prize for Cultural History 1997; and the Louis Hiemstra Prize for non fiction 2002.