J M Coetzee: cut-ZEE-uh
John Maxwell Coetzee was born in Cape Town, South Africa, on February 9, 1940.
Coetzee received his primary schooling in Cape Town and in the nearby town of Worcester. For his secondary education he attended a school in Cape Town run by a Catholic order, the Marist Brothers. He matriculated in 1956.
Coetzee entered the University of Cape Town in 1957, and in 1960 and 1961 graduated successively with honours degrees in English and mathematics. He spent the years 196265 in England, working as a computer programmer while doing research for a thesis on the English novelist Ford Madox Ford. In 1963 he married Philippa Jubber (19391991). They had two children, Nicolas (19661989) and Gisela (b. 1968).
In 1965 Coetzee entered the graduate school of the University of Texas at Austin, and in 1968 graduated with a PhD in English, linguistics, and Germanic languages. His doctoral dissertation was on the early fiction of Samuel Beckett.
For three years (196871) Coetzee was assistant professor of English at the State University of New York in Buffalo. After an application for permanent residence in the United States was denied, he returned to South Africa. From 1972 until 2000 he held a series of positions at the University of Cape Town, the last of them as Distinguished Professor of Literature.
Between 1984 and 2003 he also taught frequently in the United States: at the State University of New York, Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University, Stanford University, and the University of Chicago, where for six years he was a member of the Committee on Social Thought.
Coetzee began writing fiction in 1969. His first book, Dusklands, was published in South Africa in 1974. In the Heart of the Country (1977) won South Africa's then principal literary award, the CNA Prize, and was published in Britain and the USA. Waiting for the Barbarians (1980) received international notice. His reputation was confirmed by Life & Times of Michael K (1983), which won Britain's Booker Prize. It was followed by Foe (1986), Age of Iron (1990), The Master of Petersburg (1994), and Disgrace (1999), which again won the Booker Prize.
Coetzee also wrote two fictionalized memoirs, Boyhood (1997) and Youth (2002). The Lives of Animals (1999) is a fictionalized lecture, later absorbed into Elizabeth Costello (2003). White Writing (1988) is a set of essays on South African literature and culture. Doubling the Point (1992) consists of essays and interviews with David Attwell. Giving Offense (1996) is a study of literary censorship. Stranger Shores (2001) collects his later literary essays.
Coetzee has also been active as a translator of Dutch and Afrikaans literature.
In 2002 Coetzee emigrated to Australia. He lives with his partner Dorothy Driver in Adelaide, South Australia, where he holds an honorary position at the University of Adelaide.
This biography was last updated on 01/15/2014.
A note about the biographies
We try to keep BookBrowse's biographies both up to date and accurate. However, with over 2500 lives to keep track of it's inevitable that some won't be as current or as complete as we would like. So, please help us - if the information about a particular author is out of date, inaccurate or simply very short, and you know of a more complete source, please let us know. Authors and those connected with authors: If you wish to make changes to your bio, please send your complete biography as you would like it displayed so that we can replace the old with the new.
Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!
Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only
The Steady Running of the Hour
"Exciting, emotionally engaging and amibtious. I loved it!" - Kate Mosse
Solve this clue:
and be entered to win..
Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.
Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.