Nadine Gordimer

When Nadine Gordimer’s depictions of apartheid earned her the Nobel Prize for Literature, she used her fame to fund HIV prevention and treatment in her native South Africa. Gordimer’s mother took her out of school at age eleven, claiming Nadine had heart problems, and Gordimer dealt with her isolation by escaping into books. She published her first short story in the Johannesburg Sunday Express at age thirteen. After a year at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1945, she began exploring the black townships around Johannesburg, which led her to both black literature and the fight for equality. She became active in the African National Congress and wrote about the impact of apartheid in her fiction, beginning with her first short story collection, Face to Face, in 1949. Despite her own government censoring several of her novels for many years, she became the first South African to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991. When apartheid ended in 1994, Gordimer turned her attention to the AIDS crisis, and in 2003 she brought together numerous literary stars to create an anthology, Telling Tales, to raise money for prevention and treatment programs. The book was published by the UN a year later, on World AIDS Day.


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Nadine Gordimer in 2010, courtesy of Bengt Oberger via Wikimedia Commons.

Date of Birth

South Africa

Date of Death
Writer, Activist

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Nadine Gordimer." (Viewed on May 9, 2021) <>.


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