Elizabeth Botha (née Lindes) was born on 19 November 1930 and grew up in Krugersdorp, West Rand, Transvaal (now Gauteng). She enrolled at the University of Stellenbosch, Western Cape, in 1948 and majored in English, Afrikaans and Dutch languages and literature  earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1950, Masters of Arts in 1952, both cum laude. She obtained a Doctor of Literature and Philosophy, cum laude, at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1955. The title of her thesis was Veelheid en binding (On the problem of unity in literary theory). During her time as a student at Stellenbosch she was head student of Huis ten Bosch Residence, a member of the Students' Representative Council and (along with her future husband, Johan Botha) an editorial member of the student magazine Die Stellenbosse Student.

She worked as newspaper journalist in 1952 and 1953 before leaving for further study in Amsterdam. Thereafter she joined the Departments of Afrikaans and Dutch at several Universities: 1956-1960 and 1982-1995: Unisa; 1962-1982: University of Pretoria; and 1964: University of Witwatersrand.

Elize Botha contributed numerous talks on literary matters to the Afrikaans programme series for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) through the years.  In 1987 she became the first woman to take up the vice-chair position at the South African Academy for Science and Art and also became the organisation’s first woman chairperson two years later. She was the first woman appointed to the board of Nasionale Pers (a media house) and the first woman to serve as chairperson of the SA Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns (1989 - 1991). In 1993 she chaired the Commission on National Symbols that had been appointed by the Multiparty Negotiations Forum to decide on the new South African flag and anthem. She was also the first woman to become Chancellor of the University of Stellenbosch in 1998. Botha also served on the national committee for President Nelson Mandela's investiture in 1994, was the Chair of the Board of State Library (1992-1999) and a Member of the National Arts Council (1997-2000).

Elize Botha was married to Johan Botha, Emeritus Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Pretoria. They have a son, Frederic, and two daughters, Liesbeth and Maria.

Elize Botha passed away on 16 November 2007 in Pretoria, Gauteng.


The Gustav Preller medal for Literary Theory and Literary Criticism from the SA Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns 1982

The Order for Meritorious Service (silver) 1989

The Unisa Council's Award for Exceptional Academic Merit 1989

The NP van Wyk Louw medal from the SA Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns 1995

Honorary doctorates from the Universities of Pretoria and Stellenbosch 1995

An honorary award for excellent service from the Unisa Council in 1996

ATKV Prestige award 1982

Honorary Member of the SA Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns 2004


Essays on Afrikaans literature and language in various collections and journals

Her books include:

Afrikaanse essayiste, 1965 (Compilation)

Handleiding by die studie van die letterkunde (with A.P. Grové), 1966

M E R van naby gesien, Tafelberg, 1976

Die Afrikaanse Literatuur sedert Sestig (co-author), 1980

Oor die Afrikaanse prosa en ander opstelle, 1980

Prosakroniek, 1987

Gids by die Literatuurstudie (Co-ed


Elize Botha: 1930 - 2007. Available at: http://www.stellenboschwriters.com/bothae.html   [18 August 2020].

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