Sheila Cussons was born at the Moravia Missionary Station near Piketberg, Western Cape.  She matriculated at Hoër Meisieskool, Pretoria, Transvaal (now Gauteng) and studied fine art at the University College of Natal (now University of kwaZulu-Natal). She went on to study graphic art in Amsterdam.  Cussons has stated that she considers herself a fine artist first before a poet. She spent most of her younger years abroad, living in countries like Israel, England and Amsterdam.

Cussons wrote in Afrikaans instead of English, advice is said to have received from fellow poet D.J. Opperman.  From 1942, her poems appeared in the Afrikaans magazine Die Huisgenoot and later in Standpunte.

 In 1946, the first Stiebeuel Anthology published seven of her novels. Her first volume of poems Plektrum was published in 1970. It received three prizes ”” the Ingrid Jonker, Eugène Marais and WA Hofmeyr Prizes. In 1983, she received the Hertzog Prize for her complete body of work in poetry. Cussons also did translations of stories and poems. 

In 1983, Cussons returned to South Africa after 25 years in Spain where she was living in Barcelona with her Spanish husband Juan de Saladrigas. Saladigras was her second husband; having been first married to literary critic CJM Nienaber, with whom she had lived with in Amsterdam.

 In 1974, Cussons had an accident, where she sustained burns when a stove exploded in her kitchen. She had to go through skin grafts and amputations and stayed in hospital for two years.  She died in Cape Town on 25 February 2004. She is survived by her two sons, Jordi and Juame

References

NB Publishers, Author Focus Sheila Cussons Biographical info, from Uitgewes Publishers, [online], Available at www.nb.co.za [Accessed: 18 March 2014]|Andrea, Obituary for Sheila Cussons (1922 - 2004), from Remembered, [online], Available at remembered.co.za  [Accessed: 19 March 2014]|Die Burger, Sheila Cussons dies, from News24, [online], Available at www.news24.com  [Accessed: 19 March 2014]

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