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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Anglo-Boer War Writers

October 25, 2000 - Scott #1172
Artwork: Hein Botha
Thea Swanepoel
Stamp size:
48 × 30,45 mm

from the South Africa Postal Service:

Anglo-Boer / South African War
Honouring the authors

Wars are usually associated with heartache and destruction, but they also touch people's deepest emotions thereby stimulating creativity. With this stamp issue we focus on four people whose writing skills came to the fore as a result of their involvement in the Anglo-Boer/South African War. These writers each experienced the war from a different perspective, giving us their own unique views. On the R4,40 stamp two authors who wrote on the war from a British perspective are depicted. They are Winston Churchill and Arthur Conan Doyle. On the R2,30 stamp two authors who told their story from a South African point of view, Johanna Brandt and Sol Plaatje, are shown.

  • Winston Churchill - Churchill who came to South Africa as a war correspondent, was taken Prisoner of War by the Boer forces. In one of the controversial incidents of the war he escaped and returned to London in a blaze of glory. He wrote two books on the war, From London to Ladysmith via Pretoria and Ian Hamilton's March. Both these books first appeared in 1900 while the war was still in progress. Churchill went on to become one of the most outstanding statesmen of the 20th century. In 1953 he was also awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature "for his mastery of historical and biographical description."
  • Arthur Conan Doyle - Conan Doyle was already a famous novelist when he came to work in Bloemfontein as a medical doctor during the War. In 1887 his book, A Study in Scarlet, introduced the world to that amazing detective Sherlock Holmes. This book was followed by Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in 1891 and the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes in 1893. In South Africa Conan Doyle wrote The Great Boer War in 1900.
  • Johanna Brandt - Johanna Brandt's The Petticoat Commando first appeared in 1913. It tells the story of a mother (her mother) and her daughter's work during the war in Pretoria. In this way the book became a classic in war literature as for the first time it reflected a view on this war through the eyes of a woman.
  • Sol Plaatje - The book of the second South African author, Sol T Plaatje, (Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje) was only published in 1973 as The Boer War Diary of Sol T Plaatje. Subsequently is was reissued as Mafeking Diary - A Black Man's View of a White Man's War (1989).
    This book is unique as it gives a first hand description of the experiences of black people during the war. Plaatje, who had a great admiration for the works of William Shakespeare, in 1912 became the first secretary of the African Native National Congress - forerunner of the ANC.

The Queen's South African Medal is depicted on the stamp showing Churchill and Conan Doyle. This was the medal issued to all who fought on the British side during the War. More than 177 000 of these medals were issued.

On the stamp showing Sol Plaatje and Johanna Brandt, the Anglo-Boer War medal is shown. This medal was available to all soldiers who remained loyal to the Boer cause till the end of the war. Just more than 13 000 of these medals were issued. The commemorative cover depicts a book, a quill and an inkpot, images from days gone by that come to mind when discussing writers and writing.

The other stamp of the issue:

above, cover of the stamp booklet
below, minisheet, both from Michael Morton,
President, The A. C. Doyle and Sherlock Holmes Society of Copenhagen

The Philatelic Sherlock Holmes