Sylvester Stein

sahoboss's picture
Posted by sahoboss on

Biographical information

Sylvester Stein


Writer, editor of Drum magazine from 1955- 8 and publisher

First name: 
Last name: 
Date of birth: 
Location of birth: 
Cape Town, South Africa
Date of death: 

Sylvester Stein was born on 25 December in 1920 in Cape Town, and was brought up in Durban. He studied engineering at Howard College in Natal before serving in the Royal Navy.

After World War II he became a reporter for the Rand Daily Mail. After serving as political editor for the Rand Daily Mail, Stein took on the editorship of Drum magazine, where he spent three years working with a staff of black writers, who would later become well known for their accounts of life under apartheid.

In the late 1950s, Stein left South Africa, and settled in London, where he launched The London Property Letter, which was aimed at non-professionals interested in the real estate market.

In the 1980s, Stein also founded Running magazine, which was later sold to Rodale Press in 1995. During this time, Stein competed in both British and international athletic competitions, and won numerous medals, including an Olympic medal.

In the 1990s, Stein founded Electric Word Publishing, after selling his newsletter to a large company in the late 1980s.

Stein has written several books, including the satirical novel, 2nd Class Taxi in 1958, which was banned and What the World Owes Me by Mary Bowes in 1960.

Most recently, Stein wrote the book Who Killed Mr. Drum?, which was published in 1999 and produced as a play in 2005. This story is partly an autobiographical account of Stein’s experiences while working as editor of Drum, and partly an investigation into the death of one of Drum’s reporters, Henry Nxumalo.

Stein currently lives in Highbury, London with his wife, Sarah.

• Biographical Contribution by Sarah Cawkwell (Stein’s wife)
• “Octogenarian British publisher still coming up with new ideas” [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 August 2009]
• Sylvester Stein [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 August 2009]
• Sylvester Stein speaks to Sean Merrigan [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 August 2009]

Last updated : 29-Mar-2018

This article was produced by South African History Online on 17-Feb-2011

Support South African History Online

Donate and Make African History Matter

South African History Online is a non profit organisation. We depend on public support to build our website into the most comprehensive educational resource and encyclopaedia on African history.

Your support will help us to build and maintain partnerships with educational institutions in order to strengthen teaching, research and free access to our content.