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Sarah Gertrude Millin Biography

(1889–1968), White Writing, God's Stepchildren, The Herr Witchdoctor, Adam's Rest

South African novelist, born in Lithuania, educated in Kimberley. Her obsession as a novelist was with the supposed dire consequences of miscegenation. As J. M. Coetzee has shown in White Writing (1988), though she was Jewish her assumptions about race were derived from Victorian anthropologists and Social Darwinists like Herbert Spencer. Yet this discredited outlook, so widespread at the time, did not prevent her from writing some good novels with genuine tragic pathos, such as God's Stepchildren (1924), with its haunted, ‘mixed-blood’ protagonist, Barry. Despite her racialism Millin was vehemently anti-Nazi and attacked Nazi ideology in The Herr Witchdoctor (1941). As well as many novels, including Adam's Rest (1922), The Sons of Mrs. Aab (1931), and King of the Bastards (1950), she wrote autobiographical memoirs, war diaries, short stories, and two distinguished biographies, Rhodes (1933) and General Smuts (1936). In such non-fiction as The South Africans (1926, revised edition 1934), she addressed the potential for racial conflict.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: McTeague to Nancy [Freeman] Mitford Biography